My uncle was a politician. As a blue-collar worker, he advanced through the ranks of a German Union and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). He knew a lot about history, labor law and his ideas how to make Germany a more labor-friendly place. On weekends, he spent most of his time at home, inviting his constituents and listening to them. He listened to their stories, their problems, their challenges, their life situation. He barely said a word, he just listened. He didn’t have a stump speech, some canned responses. When he could help, he did. When he couldn’t, he tried anyway. He showed me that a few, well-chosen words work far better than a commanding presence.

We live in a world where everybody wants to be heard. All of us are pundits, advance our personal brand, feel the need to express ourselves. The world is filled with people who have a lot to say, and the confidence to say it. Sometimes, getting in a word or thought can be quite difficult. Turn on the TV news networks and watch these fools trying to get their point across. There’s no engagement, no interaction, no exchange of ideas. They all sit in their silos to shout out their opinion.

Being a bit shy is often a disadvantage. The opinion bullies always come first. Then the worriers. The critics. The silent types. In a perfect scenario, I try to be patient enough to let everyone exhaust all their points. My goal is just to get a few simple, chose words in. Something valuable I have to contribute.

When people are heard, they’re willing to listen.