“A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end, he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.” – Kenneth A. Wells

Most people, most of the time, are more than willing to listen to what you have to say, so long as what you have to say is interesting.

But what is interesting?

Dale Carnegie’s explanation — first articulated in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” — is as true today as it was back then. People are most interested in themselves.

Carnegie said that if you want to be considered a great conversationalist, you should say practically nothing. Instead, you should ask questions about the other person. The periodic question coupled with a lot of nodding will make even the dullest dinner guest appear to be a conversational maven.

So the secret to being an interesting conversationalist is to figure out how to keep turning the conversation back to the other person — his interests, wants, and needs, as well as his thoughts, opinions, and accomplishments.

Start by speaking in the second person. Instead of saying “I think this” or “I want to do that,” try beginning your sentences with “you,” as in “You may like what we have planned for …” or “You probably have a good idea about how we should …”

This is, admittedly, a bit manipulative. But it manipulates you as well as the listener. It pushes you to consider his interests — and that can result in a conversation that is truly more interesting to him.

Other things you can do to encourage “poor listeners” to listen to you:

* Ask for their feedback: “I’d like to hear your reaction to …”

* Make analogies to their favorite subjects: “My plan is like having three all-star pitchers in the bullpen …”

* Make positive statements to encourage their active participation: “That’s a very important and useful point you just made …”