Why Is This So Revolutionary?
2004 Boaz Rauchwerger
Some things in life are revolutionary. Columbus thought the world was round. The Wright Brothers thought that man could fly. Marconi thought he could send wireless signals. President Kennedy thought we could land a man on the moon.
The concepts that these people, and many other people throughout history, conceived were revolutionary to epic proportions.
In my many seminars throughout North America I teach a concept of communications that, to my great surprise, is perceived as being revolutionary. I am amazed at the reaction I get from many people who act as if what Im giving them is brand new. In reality, it comes from ancient civilizations.
What is it about modern times that engender most people to be self-centered, to rush through life without showing much interest in other people? In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People,author Dale Carnegie states that becoming genuinely interested in other people is a cornerstone to success and happiness. Combine that with being a good listener and you will be perceived as a human relations expert.
What is so revolutionary about being genuinely interested in other people and being a good listener? Why are most people doing the opposite?
I teach five simple questions that allow almost everyone to feel comfortable engaging in conversation. Keep in mind that I am genuinely interested in other people. Im also an active listener. I not only listen closely, but Im constantly looking for ways to get the other person to do most of the talking (another concept from the Carnegie book).
Here are the questions: (1) Where are you from originally? (2) What brought you here? (3) Do you have a family? (4) What do you do? and (5) What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Most people find these to be non-threatening, easy-to-answer questions and great for starting conversations. I was recently teaching these questions to a group of CEOs at a seminar in Winnipeg, Canada. The location of the event was a wonderful, rustic clubhouse at a country club just outside of town.
Throughout the morning event, a lady kept coming into the room to make sure the group had sodas, water, and coffee. She seemed pleasant, perhaps late 50s in age and very attentive to the needs of the group. At one point, in order to show the group how easy it is to communicate with anyone, I got her attention.
Excuse me,I said. Do you have a moment?She, a bit surprised that someone running a meeting wanted to speak with her in front of the entire audience, looked my way. Thank you for taking such good care of us. My name is Boaz. What is your name?
After telling me that her name was Mary, I said, Mary, Im just curious, where are you from originally?
After she got over the initial shock of my talking to her, she politely answered my questions. She told us she was originally from another city in Canada, the reason for her move to Winnipeg many years ago, the number of kids she had, the number of grandchildren, and the fact that she had worked at the country club for many years.
She seemed pleased to tell the group about herself. I was showing genuine interest in her and I made her feel important. My entire discussion with Mary took no more that two minutes and I went back to conducting my seminar with the group.
At noon, when my program was concluded and the chairman of the group and I were getting ready to join the others for lunch in another room, Mary approached the two of us. What she said next shocked both of us.
Mary, with great sincerity, said, Ive worked at this country club for twenty years and Ive taken care of hundreds of groups throughout that time. Today was the first time anyone in a meeting showed any interest in me as a human being. Thank you very much.
As Mary walked away, the chairman and I looked at each other in shock. Why hadnt anyone shown any interest in that nice lady before? Did she not count for anything more than just a servant? Isnt she a human being?
Is this an isolated incident? Not at all. Ive done this same thing with other people in other circumstances. Once I did it with a Chinese immigrant who worked in the offices of a large company. He was so touched that he went home and told everyone in his large family how an American had made him feel important. He was so moved he cried.
What did the incident with Mary cost me? Less than two minutes of time. What did I gain? A priceless moment in which a human being was made to feel important. In these busy modern times, isnt it time we took a few minutes to show genuine interest in other people? What a revolutionary concept!
An Affirmation of Genuine Interest
I make other people feel important by being genuinely interested and being a good listener.
Article reproduced with permission from Boaz Rauchwerger. You may reprint any of these articles in any publication or Web site so long as you credit Boaz Rauchwerger as the author and include this Web site address, www.Boazpower.com.