The importance of listening

I watch a lot of daytime TV nowadays. And if I start breastfeeding without locating the remote control, whatever’s on is on for a while. Right now I’m watching This Morning, and while I’m not adverse to a bit of Philip and Holly, it’s not usually top of my viewing list. But they’ve just been chatting to the legendary talk show host Larry King. Everything he’s talked about has been fascinating, with his interviewees ranging from Frank Sinatra to Oprah. But one thing in particular struck me. When talking about giving a good interview, Larry’s two rules were ‘listen to your guest’ and ‘never say “I”‘. 

I’ve interviewed a lot of celebrities over the last few years, and I wish I’d heard Larry’s advice at the beginning. In my early days at Sky I had a list of questions that were reeled off in order regardless of what the subject answered. I often missed jokes and opportunities to talk about something much more interesting because I was just waiting for my turn to speak and get through my well-researched and oh-so-well-thought-out (according to me, at least) questions. And far from avoiding the word ‘I’, I have always offered information about myself, thinking it will form a bond with the interviewee, encourage them to open up. But Larry’s right, nobody cares about me. Including the person I’m interviewing. It’s all about them. 

Now that I’m home with my boy for a while, my interview skills are not something I need to worry about. Angelina, Cara and co don’t often stop by Reading (more fool them), but it got me thinking – Larry’s rules are pretty good words to live by in general life. In my new role as Reading-dwelling-mother, I’ve been on the hunt for friends (not to sound, well, desperate), and at the age of 29 I’m a bit out of practice at making friends without work as a catalyst. But thanks to NCT groups etc I’ve made a few new mummy pals. And I’ve realised, the most attractive quality of all is the ability to listen. Larry’s absolutely right; nobody cares about me (or him. Or you.). They will, one day, but until they get to know me and learn about my life in time, the best thing I can do is listen to them

If you’re not listening, you’re just waiting for your turn to talk. And if you carry out all your conversations like that, pretty soon your turn might never come. 

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