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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

The World’s Most Needed Skill


Robert Stevenson Blog - Be Interested!

Theodore Roosevelt described the world’s most needed skill as “the most important single ingredient in the formula for success.” The renowned motivational business speaker, Brian Tracey said, “this skill will determine your happiness and success.”


But, before we go any further, I would like you to take a moment and think about what that skill could be. What is “The World’s Most Needed Skill”? Please decide on YOUR answer before reading any further. What worries me is, when I tell you what “The World’s Most Needed Skill” is, you will be disappointed in the answer. You might say, “Rob, that isn’t that impressive of a skill. It’s just common sense.” I would agree with you on the second point, it is common sense, but the only problem is, most people are fair to poor at doing it.


“The World’s Most Needed Skill” is the ability to get along with others. To get along means you have to Respect differing opinions. You have to understand that not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things that you know, believes the things that you believe, or will act the way you act.


One sure technique that will help you develop the skill of getting along with others, is to become an accomplished conversationalist. An excellent conversationalist is a person who gets the other person to talk. Any talented talk-show host understands this; they speak about 25% of the time. They ask interesting questions and then let their guest be the focus of attention. As management guru Stephen Covey once said, “The problem with most people is they don’t listen in a conversation to understand what the other person is saying … they are listening with the intent to reply.” We need to start listening to understand!


One of my favorite books is, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. It has sold over 15 million copies and still sells over 100,00 books annually. In his book he states, “If you want to be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. To be interesting, be interested.” I love those last five words, “To be interesting, be interested.” Don’t interrupt. Don’t interrogate. Don’t change the subject and don’t ever make them feel bad. People love talking about themselves and will feel you are a great conversationalist just because you listened to them.


Mr. Carnegie shared an example where, while at a dinner party, he merely asked questions and the gentleman he was sitting beside basically spoke all night. Afterwards the gentleman described Dale to the host of the party in the most flattering of terms. “Our conversation was stimulating.” He went on to say Dale was this and Dale was that and finished with saying, “He was the most interesting conversationalist.” Dale had spoken little, but he had listened intently and seemed genuinely interested and because of that … they got along great.


A good conversationalist encourages others to talk. Always remember this: People are more accepting of “you” when “they” are doing most of the talking. There is another added benefit you should consider for being a good listener: you will never be able to learn anything when you are the one who is doing all the talking. By asking thought-provoking questions and then listening, you have an excellent chance to learn something. The famous talk show host, Larry King once said: “I remind myself every morning; nothing I say this day will teach me anything, so if I am going to learn, I must do so by listening.” It’s also a smart way to perfect the skill of getting along with others.

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