I Proved This Social Skills Tip Was B.S. With A Human Experiment

I kept hearing from successful entrepreneurs and social skills books that listening to others was one of the most underrated and underused social and sales skills.

They kept going on and on about how everyone talks too much and don’t take time to actually listen to others because they’re focused on themselves.

For over a year, I tested this out. In every conversation I entered, I would stop myself from speaking until the other person had made it definitively clear that they had stopped talking. This was a bit difficult, but not overly difficult, because I am naturally an introvert.

Here is what I concluded:

Don’t do it. Don’t go to the extreme for advice like this (or any advice for that matter) like I did. Normal conversation requires you to interrupt others from time to time. Just do it sparingly and make sure you actively spend most of your time listening. Just not all of it. You’re allowed to talk!

Waiting until people completely stopped talking lead to undesired situations, like the following:

  • People would assume I had nothing left to say.
  • They assumed the conversation was over before it was.
  • I would fail to say important things I wanted to and the conversation would have moved on to a completely different topic by the time I was allowed to speak. Important points they needed to know were skipped.

Overall, I still think most people are the opposite of me. They’re loud, selfish, and exuberant. Generally speaking, they can get a lot of benefit from slowing down and taking time to listen thoroughly before speaking. People need to stop pretending to listen.

I definitely have become a better conversationalist by listening more, but once again, I learned that going to the extreme or taking someone’s advice black-and-white leads to undesirable consequences.