Carnegie explains that he once attended a dinner party where he met a botanist whom he found to be absolutely fascinating. He listened for hours with excitement as the botanist spoke of exotic plants and indoor gardens, until the party ended and everyone left.

Before leaving, the botanist told the host of the dinner party that Carnegie was a “most interesting conversationalist” and gave him several compliments.

Of course, Carnegie had hardly said anything at all. What he had done was listen intently. He listened because he was genuinely interested.

“And so I had him thinking of me as a good conversationalist when, in reality, I had been merely a good listener and had encouraged him to talk,” Carnegie notes.

Even the most ill-tempered person, the most violent critic, will often be subdued in the presence of a patient, sympathetic listener.

Most of us are so concerned with what we are going to say next that we don’t truly listen when someone else is speaking. Yet, most people would prefer a good listener to a good talker.

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