《人性的弱点》第2篇 第4章 如何养成优美而得人好感的谈吐
Some time ago, I attended a bridge party. I don’t playbridge - and there was a woman there who didn’t playbridge either. She had discovered that I had once beenLowell Thomas’ manager before he went on the radioand that I had traveled in Europe a great deal whilehelping him prepare the illustrated travel talks he wasthen delivering. So she said: “Oh, Mr. Carnegie, I dowant you to tell me about all the wonderful places youhave visited and the sights you have seen.”
As we sat down on the sofa, she remarked that she andher husband had recently returned from a trip to Africa.“Africa!” I exclaimed. “How interesting! I’ve alwayswanted to see Africa, but I never got there except for atwenty-four-hour stay once in Algiers. Tell me, did youvisit the big-game country? Yes? How fortunate. I envyyou. Do tell me about Africa.”
That kept her talking for forty-five minutes. She neveragain asked me where I had been or what I had seen.She didn’t want to hear me talk about my travels. All shewanted was an interested listener, so she could expandher ego and tell about where she had been.
Was she unusual? No. Many people are like that.
For example, I met a distinguished botanist at a dinnerparty given by a New York book publisher. I had nevertalked with a botanist before, and I found him fascinating.I literally sat on the edge of my chair and listenedwhile he spoke of exotic plants and experiments indeveloping new forms of plant life and indoor gardens (andeven told me astonishing facts about the humble potato).I had a small indoor garden of my own - and he wasgood enough to tell me how to solve some of my problems.
As I said, we were at a dinner party. There must havebeen a dozen other guests, but I violated all the canonsof courtesy, ignored everyone else, and talked for hoursto the botanist.
Midnight came, I said good night to everyone anddeparted. The botanist then turned to our host andpaid me several flattering compliments. I was “moststimulating.” I was this and I was that, and he ended bysaying I was a “most interesting conversationalist.”
An interesting conversationalist? Why, I had saidhardly anything at all. I couldn’t have said anything if Ihad wanted to without changing the subject, for I didn’tknow any more about botany than I knew about the anatomyof a penguin. But I had done this: I had listenedintently. I had listened because I was genuinely interested.And he felt it. Naturally that pleased him. Thatkind of listening is one of the highest compliments wecan pay anyone. “Few human beings,” wrote JackWoodford in Strangers in Love, “few human beings areproof against the implied flattery of rapt attention.” Iwent even further than giving him rapt attention. I was“hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”
I told him that I had been immensely entertained andinstructed - and I had. I told him I wished I had hisknoledge - and I did. I told him that I should love towander the fields with him - and I have. I told him Imust see him again - and I did.
And so I had him thinking of me as a good conversationalistwhen, in reality, I had been merely a good listenerand had encouraged him to talk.
What is the secret, the mystery, of a successful businessinterview? Well, according to former Harvard presidentCharles W. Eliot, “There is no mystery aboutsuccessful business intercourse. . . . Exclusive attentionto the person who is speaking to you is very important.Nothing else is so flattering as that.”
Eliot himself was a past master of the art of listening,Henry James, one of America’s first great novelists, recalled:“Dr. Eliot’s listening was not mere silence, but aform of activity. Sitting very erect on the end of his spinewith hands joined in his lap, making no movement exceptthat he revolved his thumbs around each otherfaster or slower, he faced his interlocutor and seemed tobe hearing with his eyes as well as his ears. He listened
with his mind and attentively considered what you hadto say while you said it. . . . At the end of an interviewthe person who had talked to him felt that he had hadhis say.”
Self-evident, isn’t it? You don’t have to study for fouryears in Harvard to discover that. Yet I know and youknow department store owners who will rent expensivespace, buy their goods economically, dress their windowsappealingly, spend thousands of dollars in advertisingand then hire clerks who haven’t the sense to begood listeners - clerks who interrupt customers, contradictthem, irritate them, and all but drive them from thestore.
A department store in Chicago almost lost a regularcustomer who spent several thousand dollars each yearin that store because a sales clerk wouldn’t listen. Mrs.Henrietta Douglas, who took our course in Chicago, hadpurchased a coat at a special sale. After she had broughtit home she noticed that there was a tear in the lining.She came back the next day and asked the sales clerk toexchange it. The clerk refused even to listen to her complaint.“You bought this at a special sale,” she said. Shepointed to a sign on the wall. “Read that,” she exclaimed." 'All sales are final.' Once you bought it, youhave to keep it. Sew up the lining yourself.”
“But this was damaged merchandise,” Mrs. Douglascomplained.
“Makes no difference,” the clerk interrupted. “Final’sfinal "
Mrs. Douglas was about to walk out indignantly,swearing never to return to that store ever, when shewas greeted by the department manager, who knew herfrom her many years of patronage. Mrs. Douglas told herwhat had happened.
The manager listened attentively to the whole story,examined the coat and then said: “Special sales are‘final’ so we can dispose of merchandise at the end ofthe season. But this 'no return’ policy does not apply todamaged goods. We will certainly repair or replace thelining, or if you prefer, give you your money back.”
What a difference in treatment! If that manager hadnot come along and listened to the Customer, a long-termpatron of that store could have been lost forever.
Listening is just as important in one's home life as inthe world of business. Millie Esposito of Croton-on-Hudson,New York, made it her business to listen carefullywhen one of her children wanted to speak with her.One evening she was sitting in the kitchen with her son,Robert, and after a brief discussion of something thatwas on his mind, Robert said: "Mom, I know that youlove me very much.”
Mrs. Esposito was touched and said: “Of course I loveyou very much. Did you doubt it?”
Robert responded: "No, but I really know you love mebecause whenever I want to talk to you about somethingyou stop whatever you are doing and listen to me.”
The chronic kicker, even the most violent critic, willfrequently soften and be subdued in the presence of apatient, sympathetic listener - a listener who will he silentwhile the irate fault-finder dilates like a king cobraand spews the poison out of his system. To illustrate:The New York Telephone Company discovered a fewyears ago that it had to deal with one of the most viciouscustomers who ever cursed a customer service representative.And he did curse. He raved. He threatened to tearthe phone out by its roots. He refused to pay certaincharges that he declared were false. He wrote letters tothe newspapers. He filed innumerable complaints withthe Public Service Commission, and he started severalsuits against the telephone company.
At last, one of the company’s most skillful “trouble-shooters”was sent to interview this stormy petrel. This“troubleshooter” listened and let the cantankerous customerenjoy himself pouring out his tirade. The telephonerepresentative listened and said “yes” andsympathized with his grievance.
“He raved on and I listened for nearlv three hours,”the “troubleshooter” said as he related his experiencesbefore one of the author’s classes. “Then I went back
and listened some more. I interviewed him four times,and before the fourth visit was over I had become acharter member of an organization he was starting. Hecalled it the ‘Telephone Subscribers’ Protective Association.'I am still a member of this organization, and, sofar as I know, I’m the only member in the world todaybesides Mr. ----.
"I listened and sympathized with him on every pointthat he made during these interviews. He had never hada telephone representative talk with him that way before,and he became almost friendly. The point on whichI went to see him was not even mentioned on the firstvisit, nor was it mentioned on the second or third, butupon the fourth interview, I closed the case completely,he paid all his bills in full, and for the first time in thehistory of his difficulties with the telephone company hevoluntarily withdrew his complaints from the PublicService Commission.”
Doubtless Mr. ----- had considered himself a holycrusader, defending the public rights against callous exploitation.But in reality, what he had really wanted wasa feeling of importance. He got this feeling of importanceat first by kicking and complaining. But as soon ashe got his feeling of importance from a representative ofthe company, his imagined grievances vanished intothin air.
One morning years ago, an angry customer stormedinto the office of Julian F. Detmer, founder of the DetmerWoolen Company, which later became the world’slargest distributor of woolens to the tailoring trade.
“This man owed us a small sum of money,” Mr. Detmerexplained to me. “The customer denied it, but weknew he was wrong. So our credit department had insistedthat he pay. After getting a number of letters fromour credit department, he packed his grip, made a trip toChicago, and hurried into my office to inform me notonly that he was not going to pay that bill, but that hewas never going to buy another dollar’s worth of goodsfrom the Detmer Woolen Company.
"I listened patiently to all he had to say. I was temptedto interrupt, but I realized that would be bad policy, So
I let him talk himself out. When he finally simmereddown and got in a receptive mood, I said quietly: ‘I wantto thank vou for coming to Chicago to tell me about this.You have done me a great favor, for if our credit departmenthas annoyed you, it may annoy other good customers,and that would be just too bad. Believe me, I am farmore eager to hear this than you are to tell it.’
“That was the last thing in the world he expected meto say. I think he was a trifle disappointed, because hehad come to Chicago to tell me a thing or two, but hereI was thanking him instead of scrapping with him. I assuredhim we would wipe the charge off the books andforget it, because he was a very careful man with onlyone account to look after, while our clerks had to lookafter thousands. Therefore, he was less likely to bewrong than we were.
“I told him that I understood exactly how he felt andthat, if I were in his shoes, I should undoubtedly feelprecisely as he did. Since he wasn’t going to buy fromus anymore, I recommended some other woolen houses.
“In the past, we had usually lunched together whenhe came to Chicago, so I invited him to have lunch withme this day. He accepted reluctantly, but when we cameback to the office he placed a larger order than everbefore. He returned home in a softened mood and, wantingto be just as fair with us as we had been with him,looked over his bills, found one that had been mislaid,and sent us a check with his apologies.
"Later, when his wife presented him with a baby boy,he gave his son the middle name of Detmer, and heremained a friend and customer of the house until hisdeath twenty-two years afterwards.”
Years ago, a poor Dutch immigrant boy washed thewindows of a bakery shop after school to help supporthis family. His people were so poor that in addition heused to go out in the street with a basket every day andcollect stray bits of coal that had fallen in the gutterwhere the coal wagons had delivered fuel. That boy,Edward Bok, never got more than six years of schoolingin his life; yet eventually he made himself one of themost successful magazine editors in the history of American
journalism. How did he do it? That is a long story,but how he got his start can be told briefly. He got hisstart by using the principles advocated in this chapter.
He left school when he was thirteen and became anoffice boy for Western Union, but he didn’t for one momentgive up the idea of an education. Instead, hestarted to educate himself, He saved his carfares andwent without lunch until he had enough money to buyan encyclopedia of American biography - and then hedid an unheard-of thing. He read the lives of famouspeople and wrote them asking for additional informationabout their childhoods. He was a good listener. Heasked famous people to tell him more about themselves.He wrote General James A. Garfield, who was then runningfor President, and asked if it was true that he wasonce a tow boy on a canal; and Garfield replied. Hewrote General Grant asking about a certain battle, andGrant drew a map for him and invited this fourteen-yearold boy to dinner and spent the evening talking to him.
Soon our Western Union messenger boy was correspondingwith many of the most famous people in thenation: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes,Longfellow, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, Louisa May Alcott,General Sherman and Jefferson Davis. Not only did hecorrespond with these distinguished people, but as soonas he got a vacation, he visited many of them as a welcomeguest in their homes. This experience imbued himwith a confidence that was invaluable. These men andwomen fired him with a vision and ambition that shapedhis life. And all this, let me repeat, was made possiblesolely by the application of the principles we are discussinghere.
Isaac F. Marcosson, a journalist who interviewedhundreds of celebrities, declared that many people failto make a favorable impression because they don’t listenattentively. “They have been so much concerned withwhat they are going to say next that they do not keeptheir ears open. . . . Very important people have told methat they prefer good listeners to good talkers, but theability to listen seems rarer than almost any other goodtrait ."
And not only important personages crave a good listener,
but ordinary folk do too. As the Reader’s Digestonce said: “Many persons call a doctor when all theywant is an audience,”
During the darkest hours of the Civil War, Lincolnwrote to an old friend in Springfield, Illinois, asking himto come to Washington. Lincoln said he had some problemshe wanted to discuss with him. The old neighborcalled at the White House, and Lincoln talked to him forhours about the advisability of issuing a proclamationfreeing the slaves. Lincoln went over all the argumentsfor and against such a move, and then read letters andnewspaper articles, some denouncing him for notfreeing the slaves and others denouncing him for fear hewas going to free them. After talking for hours, Lincolnshook hands with his old neighbor, said good night, andsent him back to Illinois without even asking for hisopinion. Lincoln had done all the talking himself. Thatseemed to clarify his mind. “He seemed to feel easierafter that talk,” the old friend said. Lincoln hadn’twanted advice, He had wanted merely a friendly, sympatheticlistener to whom he could unburden himself.That’s what we all want when we are in trouble. That isfrequently all the irritated customer wants, and the dissatisfiedemployee or the hurt friend.
One of the great listeners of modern times was SigmundFreud. A man who met Freud described his mannerof listening: “It struck me so forcibly that I shallnever forget him. He had qualities which I had neverseen in any other man. Never had I seen such concentratedattention. There was none of that piercing ‘soulpenetrating gaze’ business. His eyes were mild and genial.His voice was low and kind. His gestures were few.But the attention he gave me, his appreciation of what Isaid, even when I said it badly, was extraordinary,You've no idea what it meant to be listened to like that.”
If you want to know how to make people shun you andlaugh at you behind your back and even despise you,here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talkincessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while theother person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish:bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence.
Do you know people like that? I do, unfortunately;
and the astonishing part of it is that some of them areprominent.
Bores, that is all they are - bores intoxicated with theirown egos, drunk with a sense of their own importance.
People who talk only of themselves think only ofthemselves. And “those people who think only of themselves,”Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, longtime presidentof Columbia University, said, "are hopelessly uneducated.They are not educated,” said Dr. Butler, “no matterhow instructed they may be.”
So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be anattentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Askquestions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encouragethem to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
Remember that the people you are talking to are ahundred times more interested in themselves and theirwants and problems than they are in you and your problems.A person’s toothache means more to that personthan a famine in China which kills a million people. Aboil on one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakesin Africa. Think of that the next time you start aconversation.
PRINCIPLE 4 Be a good listener. Encourage others to talkabout themselves.
2011-01-14 14:28 编辑：kuaileyingyu