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  • Bob Burg

“Master the contents of Endless Referrals and you will practically GUARANTEE your future success.”

~ Tom Hopkins, Author, Master the Art of Selling

The Single Greatest “People Skill”

October 13th, 2013 by Bob Burg

Single Greatest People SkillIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m fascinated by the art and science of people skills. I even have a new book coming out that focuses on this topic. Of course, classics from Dale Carnegie and Les Giblin established a bar that is hard to beat.

The best I’ve ever seen in this regard, however, is my Dad. Again, no surprise to anyone who knows me.

And, while he never told me this directly, what I learned simply from watching him in his interactions with clients, family members, friends, waitpersons, anyone and everyone he met, is that:

The single greatest ‘people skill’ is a highly developed and authentic interest
in the other person.

People can tell. They know β€” maybe consciously, perhaps unconsciously β€” if you are truly interested in them or just fakin’ it in order to manipulate or “get something” from them.

When you are genuinely interested in them and in making them feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to respond to you in a positive way. I’ve seen that in my Dad since I’ve known him (and, that’s a pretty long time now). πŸ™‚

Of course, there’s lots more to being a master of people skills. But, if you want a really, really good start, simply be genuinely and authentically interested in them!

Genuine interest in the other person…it might just be the single greatest “people skill” there is.


Just a couple more weeks until my new book, Adversaries into Allies is released. Would you like a sneak peek? Visit www.AdversariesintoAllies.com. While there, be sure and get your free chapter. Please let me know what you think?

43 Responses to “The Single Greatest “People Skill””
  1. Linda Ryan said at 8:21 am on

    Couldn’t agree more, Bob. In my opinion, the best conversations are the ones that go completely “off track” because one or both of the people are genuinely interested or curious about the other. I tend to ask a lot of questions (as you well know!) and I think sometimes that annoys people. Reading this post reminds me it’s not only OK to be curious, it’s “the single greatest people skill there is.”

  2. Karen Putz said at 8:39 am on

    Wise Dad of yours!

  3. MIke Avola said at 8:46 am on

    Bob, how right you are about people skills – they should be a top priority. I always thought that the information age is coming to an end and being replaced with the relationship age. But I wonder with all the various electrontic communication tools, will it be easier or more difficult to develop the much needed people skills?

  4. Bob Burg said at 9:36 am on

    Mike: Thank you. I think that the tools are simply that…tools. They neither make one a great relationship-builder nor do they keep one from being a great relationship-builder. They are simply another way (another medium) to be able to connect, create and cultivate those relationships. And, people skills – I believe – will remain the key. It still comes down to being genuinely interested in how we can add value to the other person’s life. Thanks again!

  5. I had just finished an interview with David. David was Tony Robbins sales manager, when he said, “Tim that’s it. Before doing a short speech for me, do you have any questions? I have only a couple of minutes before the next interview”
    “Just one I replied, “How did you become involved with Tony?”
    Forty five minutes later I did my short speech and departed.
    Two week later, David called and offered me the position. Sometime later he told me, he hired me because I was a terrific conversationalist.

  6. Bob Burg said at 9:41 am on

    Timothy: LOL. I think that is one of life’s truly immutable laws: the more one talks about themselves, the greater the conversationalist they think YOU are! πŸ™‚

  7. Bob Burg said at 9:17 am on

    Linda: I don’t think your questions annoy anyone. However, if YOU feel they do, and if that is confirmed, then you might want to consider how you can genuinely focus on others without annoying them. After all, if you are annoying someone with your questions (and, I’m not saying you are – personally, I think you’re awesome), then that would not be a sign of good people skills but rather focusing on your agenda rather than theirs. Yes, it’s okay to be curious. If it’s annoying people, then an adjusted way of being genuinely interested might be in order. Again, I’m basing that only on *you* saying that it sometimes annoys people, and within the context of people skills.

  8. Bob Burg said at 9:17 am on

    Karen: Thank you, my friend. I am blessed!

  9. Joe Mann said at 9:54 am on

    I totally agree. My dad taught my brother and me to “always be a gentleman”. To us, that meant being genuinely interested in another person and honoring them, their personality, their place in life, their “story”. “Honor” was to recognize their worth as a human being and act accordingly.
    To me, the biggest problem in our country is that our leaders have lost their sense of “honor”. By continuing to promote the “Go-Giver” philosophy we can change that and return to the honorable culture we once were.
    Thank you for doing what you do.

  10. Bob Burg said at 11:13 am on

    Joe: Thank you for your comments. What a great Dad you were blessed with, as well. Terrific teaching. Thank you for sharing that with us!

  11. Amy Wells said at 11:14 am on

    Your dad is a wise man, it shows through his son. Well done Dad Burg, and Bobbie.

  12. Bob Burg said at 11:25 am on

    Amy: Awww, thank you. Greatly appreciated! πŸ™‚

  13. Matt Greener said at 11:15 am on

    Very true and much easier to say than to actually practice. It requires us to stop thinking entirely about ourselves for a bit.

  14. Bob Burg said at 11:25 am on

    Matt: Indeed, great point! And, while this seemed to come naturally for my Dad, I had to consciously work on it until it became a habit.

  15. Jean Kuhn said at 11:26 am on


    I love this.

    I’m speaking at Toastmasters tonight on this very topic. Basically because I’m scheduled to speak, and haven’t had time to prepare anything new, so tonight they are going to learn Networking 101 which, as you teach, is this philosophy.

    People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

    Looking forward to your new book.

  16. Daniel said at 11:38 am on

    Thank you for this insightful blog post. I really do wish I learned and realized the importance of this many years ago. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Bob Burg said at 12:59 pm on

    Daniel: Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And, the cool thing is, you can always begin again from wherever you are!

  18. Teri Bach said at 12:09 pm on

    Great post, Bob! When I first read the Go-Giver and The Law of Authenticity, I thought ‘oh, this makes so much sense and really takes the pressure off meeting new people.’ It has given me so much more freedom. Thanks for all that you teach and do!!!

  19. Bob Burg said at 12:49 pm on

    Jean: Thank you for your kind feedback. Indeed, I love that quote you mentioned which was coined by the great Cavett Robert, founder of The National Speakers Association. Best wishes for great success in your presentation tonight!

  20. Bob Burg said at 12:50 pm on

    Teri: WOW – how nice to hear! Thank you for sharing that with me!

  21. Bob- So true. Reminds me of one of my favorite people- my father-in-law the “milk man”. One easy way to accomplish this (my little trick with juries) is to ask open ended questions and listen much more than you talk. Not always easy for lawyers to do but once they figure this out magic happens. Sharing your post today. Thanks!

  22. Tara Rogers said at 1:45 pm on

    Wow, Bob, what a great post and one that is exceptionally close to my heart. It is also one that I have battled with in terms of the US for more than 30 years… My family partly relocated to the US (from South Africa) when my father accepted a guest lectureship at Harvard more than 30 years ago, and my family moved here permanently 27 years ago, but I always battled with the “have a nice day” “how y’all doing” lip service that is rampant in the country…
    Until I came to the Go Giver’s Retreat last year and met some of the most amazing, inspirational people in my life, my viewpoint has now changed.
    Authentic interest in others, that is also not self-serving, has incalculable value. And it is immediately recognizable…
    Thank you for highlighting this – your dad is an awesome man… and so is his son.
    Lucky to know you. Truly.

  23. Bob Burg said at 1:49 pm on

    Mitch: Thank you for your feedback. Sounds like your Father-in-Law was a terrific example! Indeed, so important for lawyers (or, anyone in any field) to know that it isn’t about them but about the other person. And, that to the degree we focus on bringing genuine value to others, we profit as a result, both personally and in business. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Bob Burg said at 1:54 pm on

    Tara: Thank you. I think, as you say, when it’s authentic, you can tell. When it’s not, you can also tell. And, based on what I’ve seen, it seems to be the same wherever I go and in whatever country I’ve had the privilege to visit. Thank you for your kind words about my Dad. Very appreciated! And, great seeing you at least weekend’s event, as well!

  25. Wonderful post, Bob! I read Dale Carnegie’s book when I was 14 and my life … and my relationships with people changed forever. Excited about your new book!

  26. Bob Burg said at 3:25 pm on

    Anita: Yes, I LOVED Dale Carnegie’s book (several of his books) and have read it many, many times. Life-changing! And, thank you for your kind words about the new book. I hope you enjoy it and find it to be of value!

  27. Pete Evans said at 4:52 pm on

    Bob, another great post. Paying genuine interest in the other person is a key part of being authentic. Too many people pay “lip-service” to this concept and as you point out fake it. Listening to the other person and focusing your attention on the other person is so important. When you give a 100 per cent focus, you achieve great results and outcomes. I am always amazed how many people don’t truly show up and only partly pay attention to the conversation. If people devoted as much attention to being authentic instead of faking it, then they would improve the quality of their relationships.

  28. Bob Burg said at 5:07 pm on

    Pete: What great advice. Thank you so much for sharing such important wisdom with us!

  29. John Hersey said at 6:09 pm on

    Your Dad “got it” and you “give it to the rest of us”. Great team!
    I do agree with Matt Greener that it is easy to talk about , not so easy to practice.
    Why is it that the simple things, the basics, are not so easy to do consistently? I guess it is time to re-read The Go Giver.
    Always in admiration of your work and impact,

  30. Bob Burg said at 6:16 pm on

    John: Wow – thank you. Very kind of you! Greatly appreciated!

  31. He taught you well.
    Your dad is brilliant and so are you.

  32. Bob Burg said at 6:17 pm on

    Carly: Huge thanks for your always kind and encouraging words. Much gratitude!

  33. Bruce said at 8:25 pm on

    Growing up with the Burgs, the influence that Bob’s dad and mom made in the community helped so many and made an indelible impact on all that had the fortune to be in their company. Many go through life expecting to be given everything. The Burg’s philosophy has always been how can I give to make others feel more comfortable.

    Bob and his dad taught me that when in public look to help others, They, in turn, are more apt to contribute to the well being all of society.

  34. Bob Burg said at 8:38 pm on

    Bruce: Thank you. That’s very kind of you, great friend and brother! {Bruce was my best bud from the time I was 5 years old and was like another son to my Parents.} πŸ™‚

  35. It’s funny (as in odd) that we have so much trouble with this sometimes. Because people are fascinating! They ARE so interesting. Their problems, their joys, their similarities to us (don’t we love finding something in common) and their differences (don’t we love talking about our differences).

    We watch TV about other people. We go to the mall to “people watch.” We eavesdrop. We’re voyeurs. And yet, we have to be reminded to show our interest in other people πŸ™‚

  36. Doug Wagner said at 8:30 pm on

    A great reminder and even greater lesson to learn from your father. Looking forward to the book release.

  37. Bob Burg said at 8:44 pm on

    Beth: As always, wonderfully stated, my friend!

  38. Bob Burg said at 8:44 pm on

    Doug: Thank you. VERY greatly appreciated!

  39. Adelinde said at 12:24 am on

    From my vantage point I haven’t a clue where to start being persuasive. I like people and most
    appear to be confident in fact I get the distinct impression that they know much more than I’ll
    ever know and am in awe of articulate, artistic and creative persons. I don’t know if reading
    The Single Greatest β€œPeople Skill” gives me the confidence that anyone actually wants what
    I have to offer.


  40. Jackie said at 7:39 pm on

    I just read the first chapter to your new book and am excited to get it. Will it be available in an audio version? Being able to listen on my commute or performing other domestic tasks allows me to be more productive with my time.

    I really connected with the information and know your book will help me in my work and personal life. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  41. Bob Burg said at 3:50 am on

    Jackie: Thank you for your very kind words about the chapter. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, the book will be available on audio. I’m told by the publisher it will be available as soon as the book is released, which is October 31. Again, thank you, and I hope you enjoy listening to the book! πŸ™‚

  42. Jayne Cox said at 3:50 am on

    Just reading this Bob on a stormy autumnal Sunday morning in the UK and it feels as if I’m bathed in bright sunshine. It’s hit the spot and I wholeheartedly agree, being genuinely interested and caring about the people you interact with is the art of meaningful authentic communication. People who practice this will find they draw people to them and strike up lovely conversations wherever they go. Thank you Bob and looking forward to reading your new book! Jayne

  43. Bob Burg said at 6:32 am on

    Jayne: Thank you. The way you said that painted a terrific picture. You should be a writer, my friend! πŸ™‚

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