“Attempt on every occasion to provide for nothing so much as that which is safe: for silence is safer than speaking. And omit speaking whatever is without sense and reason.” – Epictetus
Everyone appreciates a good listener. Like good food, drinks, money, and even sex, talking about ourselves offer a reward and stimulates good feelings towards the people we share these things with.
When we are with others, our goal should always be to make the other person’s experience as pleasant and enjoyable as we can. One of the easiest ways that we can do this is to say as little as possible about ourselves during an interaction and instead ask leading questions that get the other person to talk more about themselves.
In addition to leading people to talk about themselves we should also be encouraging them to talk about positive things about themselves or their lives. This leaves them feeling better about themselves and has the bonus for us that they associate us with that feeling. If a person is someone we want or need to build a relationship with, it makes it easier for us to build positive relationships when they associate us with positive feelings. It also helps us by giving us insight on them as people, making them easier for us to relate to, which helps us build that relationship in the first place.
Life will give us plenty of opportunity to practice listening more, not saying much about ourselves, and guiding others to say positive things about themselves around us. As we get better at this skill, we should see that people make an effort to be around us more. This makes much of life easier and more enjoyable.
virtus fortis vocat