Respect (Listening)

School's out at last in Massachusetts.  On Saturday, I drove my newly graduated son for several hours to his job  in the White Mountains.   On the way there, while he unselfconsciously  dozed next to me in positions that only teenaged bodies can assume,  I listened to Chris Matthews'  book , Life's A Campaign:  What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success. The CD set was a gift from a friend.

As we drove through the mountains, I took some notes and, when we got to Chapter Five, I stopped the car. Matthews told a story about a former President, an extraordinary politician. Put aside your views of the guy’s personal conduct for a moment.  [OK, that could take care of five of the last seven Presidents, yes? Who did YOU think of? ] From the book:

Chapter 5:  The Best Gift You Can Give a Stranger is an Audience.

“Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.”    Lord Chesterfield

“Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.  You want to influence someone, listen to what he says.”  Dr. Joyce Brothers.

When he was a [graduate student, he]had a reputation as someone who knew how to connect with girls. A fellow [student]  who was waging a losing battle for the woman of his dreams asked  [him] for advice. “Have you ever thought about listening, ” [he] told him authoritatively…

[The former President] knew and still does that the way to anyone’s heart is to listen to it, to let the other person speak. “To have someone listening to you is flattering, “he told his pal. “If you let them do the talking, they’ll be far more interested in you.”

… As a college student [he] was famous for being able to read the professors. He would wow his classmates by predicting just what questions would be on the exams. That’s because he listened in class, really heard what the professor most cared about….

…Even in the chaos of the campaign, with all hell breaking loose, he could shut out everything but the person he was listening to. This is an extraordinary talent. To be able to truly listen shows respect in ways that all the speeches in the world cannot.

And that all the snappy chatter, pitch books, give-aways, and other sales razzmatazz cannot, either.

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