Listening is the single most important of all communications skills. It is more important than stirring oratory, more important than a powerful voice, more important than the ability to speak multiple languages—more important than a flair for the written word.

Good listening is truly where effective communications and relationships begin. It’s surprising how few people really listen well. Those who do are the ones who have learned the SKILL of listening.

The simple truth of the matter is that people love being listened to. It’s true in the business world. It’s true at home. It’s true of just about everyone we come across in life.

Dale Carnegie wrote that the secret of influencing people lies not so much in being a good talker as in being a good listener. Most people who try to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves.

To improve relationships—as well as your effectiveness— encourage the other person to talk by asking questions. Let the person share with you. If you disagree with them, you may be tempted to interrupt. Don’t. You will have your chance to share your ideas. Listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere. Encourage the person to express his or her ideas. Be supportive rather than listening with an agenda.

The person who you listen to with full attention will never forget. And you will learn a thing or two.