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Just Listen: Why Being A Good Listener Is Key To Being A True Friend

Have you ever met someone who seemed so interesting and mysterious, until he or she spent 30 minutes talking about him or herself without attempting to even ask for your name?

There are few things worse than meeting these types of people, except maybe going to get a milkshake only to find out they're all out of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. That's definitely worse.

If there is one piece of advice you should follow it’s this: More people will like you if you spend time listening to them rather than talking about yourself in an attempt to impress them.

Now of course I’d love to take credit for this advice, but you can thank Dale Carnegie, the author of the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for it.

Normally I wouldn't pick up a book like this to read on my own time, however, this semester, my speech communications professor assigned the book as a requirement for his class.

And all I can say is, everyone should be required to read it.

According to Carnegie,

“People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves -- morning, noon, and after dinner.”

Think about all the times you've spent telling people stories about your life because you wanted them to like you.

Think about all the energy and words you've wasted on people who turned out to be grade A douche bags.

Think about all the friends you could have made if you listened, versus taking an hour to explain why your family classifies you as the “lazy one.”

In world where we preach about being there for others, we're all pretty selfish. Everyone's guilty of it. We want people to like us, to think we’re cool and to accept us.

In doing so we forget to show a genuine interest in them in return.

This could be part of what attracts us to one person over another. When we notice someone taking a genuine interest in what we have to say, we're always surprised.

We file that moment away in our minds as something worth remembering.

Society has become selfish, but according to Carnegie, if you practice listening and being sincere, people will like you.

If it's that simple, why do we torture ourselves?

We all want to be liked.

Self-fulfillment is a huge part of being human. We want to feel a sense of fulfillment, which can be felt through the positive opinions other people have of us.

Although we are told from the beginning of time that the only opinion that matters is your own, we thrive on what other people think about us.

The feeling we get when someone likes our Instagram picture is similar to what we feel when we know someone likes and accepts us as a person.

Carnegie says that in his life, he has always made a solid effort to remember the birthdays of his friends. When he would send them letters or telegrams on their special day, they were always excited.

Remembering small pieces of information, such as a birthday, tells the person you're friends with that you care. It's a sign that you were listening.

Think about how you feel when someone you would never expect remembers a small fact about you. Typically, you feel pretty damn great.

We want to be known as "cool."

Everyone wants to be known as the cool girl or guy. We want to be the one people refer to when they say, "I wish I could be them!"

It's in our nature.

No one wants to be known as awkward, or rude; we want to be cool. We want to be the one people look up to.

We all want to be remembered for something.

We all want to go through life knowing that we were a part of something great.

We should all strive to be remembered for being a sincere human being.

A show of interest, as with every other principle of human relations, must be sincere. It must pay off not only for the person showing the interest, but for the person receiving the attention. It is a two-way street; both parties benefit.  -- Dale Carnegie

So next time you meet someone, take Carnegie’s advice. Make a point to listen to what they have to say.

Don’t talk about yourself or make the whole conversation about why your life is so good or so bad; just listen.

Listening is one of the easiest things you can do, in theory.

Becoming a good listener takes time, practice and a few glasses of wine, but it’s a skill worth having.