Career Success Rule #29

Career Success Rule #29Listening is the key to becoming a great conversationalist. Dr. Joyce Brothers makes an interesting point about listening.

“Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.”

She’s right!

When you really listen to someone, really listen, giving him or her your complete and undivided attention, you are showing that you care about him or her as a human being. What could be more flattering?

The US Department of Labor suggests several reasons for developing your listening skills. Developing your listening skills will help you:

  • Better understand assignments and what is expected of you.
  • Build rapport with co-workers, bosses and customers.
  • Show support for others.
  • Work better in a team based environment.
  • Resolve problem with co-workers, bosses and customers
  • Answer questions completely.
  • Find the underlying meaning in what others say.

There are some generally accepted ideas about what it takes to be a good listener:

  • Maintain eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking.
  • Don’t interrupt – except to ask a clarification question.
  • Use non verbal cues – nod your heard, lean toward the other person, sit still – that indicate you are listening.
  • Repeat what the other person says – to be sure you understand, and to get clarification.

I have a worked out a listening to speaking ratio for effective conversations. Listen two thirds of the time. Speak one third of the time. In this way, you are giving the other person more time to share his or her thoughts and ideas with you. You will be flattering him or her by your willingness to listen.

Listening is more than just not talking. To listen well, you need to mentally engage with the other person. You need to focus on what he or she is saying, and you need to respond in a manner that indicates that you are paying attention.

You should listen the most diligently when you find yourself disagreeing with what the other person is saying. It’s easy to tune out someone with whom you disagree. When you really listen to what he or she has to say, you are not only demonstrating respect for his or her as a person, you put yourself in a position to learn something new.

The people who host many of the television political talk shows are terrible listeners. They invite people who hold opposing views to be on their show. They ask provocative questions. And then begin to argue with their guest as soon as he or she begins speaking. This may be good TV, but it is a poor example of how to truly listen and engage with another person.

The common sense point here is simple. Successful people have well developed communication skills. They are good conversationalists. They write clearly and succinctly. They present well. If you want to become a good conversationalist, you need to learn to listen well. Focus your attention on the other person, pay attention to what he or she says. Respond appropriately. Listen more than you speak. Show people that you value them and what they have to say.

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