Smile. Listen. Listen Some More.

How often have you engaged in a conversation and talked about a challenge you’re facing, and the person who is “listening” keeps jumping in with their suggested solution(s) before you have an opportunity to finish?
We’ve all been on both sides of the above scenario.
  • Conversations between friends
  • Meeting someone for the first time at a networking event
  • Being in a sales role in the discovery process with a potential customer or client
Being a good listener is probably one of the most important skills you can learn. When you open your ears and close your mouth, it gives you the ability to absorb much more information and BEFORE responding, look at the big picture.
That’s when you can use your expertise and experience to participate and provide helpful insight. And, if you genuinely don’t have the advice that would be helpful, don’t provide input that could lead the person in the wrong direction.
To follow are examples of how to engage in different situations.

Compassionate Without Being Controlling

We all want to help those close to us, but we’ve all been there; sometimes, they just want to vent. The worst thing you can do is immediately jump in when your friend is “letting it out.” Let it play out while still demonstrating that you’re there for them. If you listen, you’ll better understand their needs, and you’ll know when it’s time to offer help or continue to listen.

At a Networking Event

When you meet someone for the first time at a business function, you may be on edge, especially if you’re an introvert. You don’t know this person and are unsure how to strike up a conversation that could potentially lead to a potential customer, client, or future strategic alliance. Guess what? To make it easy, you don’t need to put much thought into how you want to open the conversation.

When you approach someone for the first time, introduce yourself by being brief. Give the person your name, the company you represent, and perhaps a SHORT description of your role. Then ask them questions about themselves. When they begin talking, it’s important to give them the time to respond. Don’t interject with your own stories or swing it back to talking about yourself. When people interrupt someone speaking, it demonstrates a lack of respect. There are other ways you can show engagement without talking:

  • Make eye contact and listen without fidgeting with your phone or looking around the room.
  • Ask follow-up questions that show you’ve heard what they have been saying. Don’t make the mistake of not really listening because you’re thinking about the next thing YOU want to say. If you take the time to listen, you’ll know what to say when there’s a break in speaking.

If you’re a salesperson trying to make a connection, even if you haven’t “done your spiel,” they will remember you for showing respect by making them feel important by listening. Listening to the challenge they may be facing in business will lead you to the solution you may be able to provide with your product or service.

How Will You Benefit From Being a Good Listener?
  • Will build stronger relationships
  • More focused on what's important
  • Ability to process information at a higher level

When you’re not trying to force a specific outcome, you are free to focus on the other person. And by keeping your head in the conversation without wandering, you’ll gain the mutual respect that will ultimately help you reach the desired result.

Whether you’re in a business setting or allowing someone close to confide in you, being a good listener takes practice. The better you get, the more opportunities will come your way.