It is far more impressive when others discover you good qualities without your help.
~ Judith Martin
Every time you meet someone new for the first time, you have one chance to make a good impression. In the first few minutes, an image of who you are is already formed in your acquaintance’s mind.
Naturally, you want to show the best of yourself. Most people would want to talk about all of the things they’ve achieved, all of the wealth, possessions and qualifications they have, where they come from and who they are. As people, we love to talk about ourselves.
But, instead of worrying so much about what to say, how about just listening? After your initial introductions, why not try asking questions and listening to what your new friend has to say?
Listening to others means devoting a little of your time to someone else’s story. Not surprisingly, people who listen a lot are thought of as better conversationalists than those that talk too much. People feel more engaged in a conversation if they feel that what they are saying is being appreciated.
They say that nobody knows an enlightened person. That’s probably because they spend their time listening, not speaking. They don’t go on about themselves, they don’t show off or try to be something they are not. They are simply there to lend a patient ear to those in need, and they only give advice when they are asked for it.
That’s quite different from the rest of us who can probably go on and on about our life story. I’ve seen it so many times, people trying to ‘have a conversation’ but what they were really doing was reeling out monologues in between each other’s pauses. It’s not a big shock to see that these people eventually fail to make deeper friendships and connections.
It’s fascinating to see the differences that come from just shutting up every once in a while. Who knows, perhaps if you try listening a little more, you might discover something, or someone, amazing.
Listen to someone intently today. Try to resist judgement or the temptation to give advice. Observe how they react when you don’t interrupt. Do they end up sharing more?
Simple Philosophies is a series of short posts about small things we can do to live a happier life. Please let me know what you think in the comments!