From me-based to you-first

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Robert Eckert, chairman and CEO of Mattel, recalled in a recent New York Times interview that his late father liked to say, "Bobby, how's it going? Enough about me. Tell me about you."

Eckert admired how his father focused on others. Eckert says he follows his father's example. "Being other directed has always worked for me," he said.

When you show interest in others, you engage them. Dale Carnegie figured this out nearly 100 years ago.

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you," he wrote.

Here are other ways to communicate your interest in others:

Apply the three-sentence rule. In one-on-one conversation, limit me-based comments to three sentences. Then ask a question. This stops you from rambling about yourself and thus alienating your listener.

Volunteer keen observations. Let others know when you notice something positive about their voice tone, appearance or comments. Examples include, "The confidence in your voice is so reassuring" or "You seem pretty passionate about this idea of yours."

Skimp on the stories. If you're a natural-born storyteller, restrain your urge to launch into your next tale. Listeners who are eager to get a word in don't want you to hog the conversation with a long story.

Follow up. If someone states a bold opinion, ask a question such as, "Can you elaborate on that?" or "How did you arrive at that conclusion?" That's better than tugging the conversation back to you and using the other person's statement as a springboard to pontificate.

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