In ancient historical times (i.e. before I was married), the ideal night out was pretty low tech. Go drinking in town. Find someone to chat up. Have a bit of craic. Maybe even source a party (anywhere) and let the night continue. Heaven for the single, simple minded.
Spanish Guitar: While it didn’t always go to plan, one night it did and myself and a buddy ended up in a flat in Rathmines. To make matters even better, a guy pulled out a Spanish (nylon string) guitar and we thought we were sorted. He started off playing a couple of classical pieces. Then he played another few. After Greensleeves and Air on a G-String, I was lost. He continued to play a succession of musical pieces that none of us had ever heard before and never wanted to hear again. The guy sitting beside me quipped: “I hate it when Segovia comes to a party”. Most people will be familiar with the brilliant playing of Andres Segovia, possibly the most acclaimed Spanish guitarist in the world. In a recent TV documentary, Segovia described his entire life as an ascending line (there’s a thought). Anyway, getting back to the story, while the Rathmines musician was technically excellent – it was all lost in the drunken haze and the denied expectation of doing Dire Straits impersonations.
Influencing People: From time to time we all face a similar conundrum. Particularly if you are extrovert, you’ll want to ‘show off’ your expertise, how much you know, what you’ve acquired or achieved to date. You will want to play centre stage. In terms of influencing other people, it’s a fundamental mistake. In the late 1950’s, Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People), highlighted a simple truth. The most important person in the world to anyone is themselves. We don’t have to impress people with our brilliance; we just have to discover theirs. Want to become a great conversationalist? Learn to actively listen. Listen for facts and feelings, not pseudo listening. Ask follow on questions. Reflect back what you have heard. Share bits and bobs about yourself. All questions and no information will make you seem like Peter Falk or, worse still, a trainee psychotherapist! Listen with genuine interest and empathy. Don’t try to ‘top’ the stories with your own superhero feats.
I Absolve You: Isn’t this a wonderful release. You are henceforth absolved from being brilliant. When you are really interested in others, no future conversation will ever be boring. And people will walk away, thinking about how wonderfully interesting you are. Try it. Just don’t tell too many people or they’ll all be at it!
PS: Lighter Note: A good friend, Robbie, recently went to the Electric Picnic concert. The following morning he was in the washroom when a 20 year-old guy mentioned that he was dying (hangover). Robbie gave him some toothpaste and told him to have a shower, grab something to eat and he’d be ok. Pleased with the empathy, the younger guy said: “Fair play to you. I hope I’m still coming here when I’m your age”. Robbie thought about asking for the toothpaste back, but decided to leave it.