Listen attentively

If there's one law of conversation, it's to listen, and listen attentively. It's to take interest in anything whoever's with you says. It's to treat it with respect, treat it with dignity, and see where it will lead you. It's to respond in a manner that fits the subject accordingly.

Whatever happens afterward isn't exactly as relevant as you think. Should you take a friendly stance, try not to offend, look accepting and be generally nice? Should you pick out a minute detail of what you heard, break it apart, point out the mistakes and insist that it gets changed? Should you underestimate the situation, distract the party and ease things up, if only temporarily?

What's the deal with asking these questions? All that matters is that you listen attentively. They asked for your time, and you asked for theirs. They have stories and problems and observations to tell, and you have questions and answers and distractions to provide. You think one thing, they think another, and it doesn't matter whether nothing meets halfway. The fact that it happened means they were paying attention, defending what the believe in, willing to take the hard way, and hopefully make everything better - or, at least, make sure the time they gave you is worthwhile, however flimsy the conversation is. It may, and will, change depending on who you're talking to, but the rule remains universal. Listen, and listen attentively.

I did exactly that. What did I get wrong?

And your responses...

Eventually, people will credit the good things you’ve done for them anyway.

Blogger N.4/05/2009     

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