July 28, 2005
Excerpts: 25 Ways to Win with People - Part IV
REMEMBER A PERSONS STORY
Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request. PHILLIPSTANHOPE, EARLOFCHESTERFIELD
LES . . . ON SEEING THE PRACTICE IN ACTION
"Les," John will say, "tell me about your dad. How are he and your mom doing since they moved to Phoenix?"
Its just like John to recall that my parents recently moved.
"And tell me about your brothers," hell continue.
"Whats the latest with them?"
John always seems to remember my storyjust as he does with so many people. He does it well, often, and consistently. When he has met people, Ive heard him flat-out ask them to tell him their stories. So I asked him how he learned to be a collector of peoples stories.
"To begin with, I love a good storywhether Im learn- ing about someone Ive just met or hearing about an adven- ture from someone Ive known my whole life. In fact, when I spend time with my dad, who is now eighty-two, our time is always filled with storytelling. We talk about the new things that are happening in our lives, but often the stories are ones I have heard dozens of times. Some Dad loves to tell over and over. Others I ask him to tell. Some I love retelling."
But you seem to go out of your way to get the story of someone you just met," I commented.
"Thats true. Whenever I have a few minutes with some- one," John said, "I ask him to tell me his story, because I know that time in the conversation will focus entirely on him, his interests, dreams, uniqueness, disappointments, questions, hopeshis journey. While that person enjoys the personal attention, I gain insight into the keys to his life. Learning a persons story is a great way to connect with him. Remembering his journey and building on it is the greatest way to develop a strong relationship.
"Just the other day I took a taxi from the San Diego air- port over to Coronado. And I talked to the cab driver, said John. His name was Raphael. I asked him his story, and he told me that he had lived on Coronado thirty-five years, and there he had found something hed not found anywhere else in his life: community. Every afternoon he meets his friends at a local market, where they talk and play games. He was so pleased that I asked and he was so delighted to tell his story that he invited me to the market."
That shows how great a connection you can make in a short time by simply asking people to tell you their stories. And just imagine the impression it will make when you remember each story: it will help you to reconnect with people very quickly.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.