If you could boil down one key ingredient to being a people person, it would be to listen. This is the one skill that will serve you well. In general, people are too wrapped up in themselves and don’t listen. This is even more systemic with the increase of smartphone use. You see people with their heads buried in these devices all the time.
When you become a good listener, you will stand out from the crowd and people will take notice of this personal trait. More people will approach you and in many cases, they won’t even know why. It’s not as you announce to the world, “I am a good listener. Come talk to me.” It will happen naturally because you are listening.
Many people mistake listening with giving advice. This is not always a good idea. In fact, unless you are a counselor or you are an expert in the subject of the conversation, you want to avoid advice as much as possible. You don’t want to give people bad advice that if followed, will lead to a difficult situation.
Listening involves hearing what the other person has to say completely and then interpreting what is being said. If you need to respond, you can acknowledge what was said. Some people like to repeat what the other person says after he or she says it. This can be awkward for the person talking, but it is helpful to ensure you understand what was being said.
You can also follow up with words of encouragement or empathy, depending on how the conversation is going. This is different to offering advice. You are letting the other person know you heard what he or she said and respond accordingly.
In most conversations, one person will speak about himself or herself. When the person finishes, the other person will speak about himself or herself. This is a common form of conversation but neither party is truly listening to the other. Take an interest in the other parties and let the conversation be about them. You will have plenty of time in other conversations to make it about you. To further the conversation, ask questions about what was said. This shows you are interested. People love to talk about themselves. Let them do this.
Listening is a skill. Just like anything else, it takes practice. When you become a good listener you will become more of a people person by using this skill to its fullest.