Consider This

Robert Stevenson’s Thoughts on the Pursuit of Excellence

The World’s Most Needed Skill

July 21, 2019

by Robert Stevenson

Theodore Roosevelt described the world’s most needed skill as “the most important single ingredient in the formula for success.” The renowned motivational business speaker, Brian Tracey said, “this skill will determine your happiness and success.”

But, before we go any further, I would like you to take a moment and think about what that skill could be. What is “The World’s Most Needed Skill”? Please decide on YOUR answer before reading any further. What worries me is, when I tell you what “The World’s Most Needed Skill” is, you will be disappointed in the answer. You might say, “Rob, that isn’t that impressive of a skill. It’s just common sense.” I would agree with you on the second point, it is common sense, but the only problem is, most people are fair to poor at doing it.

“The World’s Most Needed Skill” is the ability to get along with others. To get along means you have to Respect differing opinions. You have to understand that not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things that you know, believes the things that you believe, or will act the way you act.

One sure technique that will help you develop the skill of getting along with others, is to become an accomplished conversationalist. An excellent conversationalist is a person who gets the other person to talk. Any talented talk-show host understands this; they speak about 25% of the time. They ask interesting questions and then let their guest be the focus of attention. As management guru Stephen Covey once said, “The problem with most people is they don’t listen in a conversation to understand what the other person is saying … they are listening with the intent to reply.” We need to start listening to understand!

One of my favorite books is, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. It has sold over 15 million copies and still sells over 100,00 books annually. In his book he states, “If you want to be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. To be interesting, be interested.” I love those last five words, “To be interesting, be interested.” Don’t interrupt. Don’t interrogate. Don’t change the subject and don’t ever make them feel bad. People love talking about themselves and will feel you are a great conversationalist just because you listened to them.

Mr. Carnegie shared an example where, while at a dinner party, he merely asked questions and the gentleman he was sitting beside basically spoke all night. Afterwards the gentleman described Dale to the host of the party in the most flattering of terms. “Our conversation was stimulating.” He went on to say Dale was this and Dale was that and finished with saying, “He was the most interesting conversationalist.” Dale had spoken little, but he had listened intently and seemed genuinely interested and because of that … they got along great.

A good conversationalist encourages others to talk. Always remember this: People are more accepting of “you” when “they” are doing most of the talking. There is another added benefit you should consider for being a good listener: you will never be able to learn anything when you are the one who is doing all the talking. By asking thought-provoking questions and then listening, you have an excellent chance to learn something. The famous talk show host, Larry King once said: “I remind myself every morning; nothing I say this day will teach me anything, so if I am going to learn, I must do so by listening.” It’s also a smart way to perfect the skill of getting along with others.

"Your only true security in life
is your ability to perform."

About the Author

Robert Stevenson is an expert at building a high-performance business culture, improving efficiency, and accelerating growth. He is one of the most widely sought-after speakers in the world today, as well as a best-selling author. He has owned five companies, sold internationally in over 20 countries. Robert has spoken to over 2,500 companies throughout the world and his research in the area of corporate and entrepreneurial success is extensive. Over 2 million people have benefitted from his powerful, practical, and thought-provoking programs. He is a true master at blending facts, inspiration, conviction, and humor into all his programs.

Companies like FedEx, Prudential, Lockheed Martin, Anheuser-Busch, Chevron, American Express, and Berkshire Hathaway continue to rely on him for a fresh, unique perspective on businesses’ most crucial issues. To learn more about Robert and what he can do for your team visit his website at

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