How to train people to listen to you

When I was a freshman in college at my first official fraternity meeting, one of the older guys (who’s now a pediatrician), said to me:

“Kevin, I want you to notice something.  There are some guys here who always have to say something about every issue we talk about.  Watch what happens whenever they talk.”

The lesson became obvious pretty fast.  Whenever the talkers spoke, everyone just tuned out.  The talkers had trained the group not to listen to them. 

The guys people paid attention to were those who listened more than they talked, who weren’t afraid to contribute but did it when they really had something to say that was different from what had already been said.  Whenever they talked, everyone tuned in and the room got quiet fast.  And almost without exception, what they had to say was more insightful. 

It's fine to answer a question in class and be wrong.  It's fine to suggest something in a meeting that gets shot down.  Never be afraid to contribute.

But don't become one of those people who talks so much that you train people not to listen to you.  The more you listen, the more they'll listen back.  I still forget that sometimes, and it’s one of the best lessons I took from college. (Thank you, Dr. Mike).