Conversations, Listening and Success

Dynamic communication is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you must master three basic, but very important communication skills: conversation, writing and presenting.

Listening to others and then responding appropriately is one of my first rules for becoming an outstanding conversationalist.  I always urge my coaching clients to do three things when they are in conversation.  1) Ask lots of questions.  2) Really listen to what the other person is saying.  3) Respond appropriately.  Laugh if the person says something funny.  Commiserate if the person reveals something that is sad.  Make sure the other person knows you are tuned in and paying attention.

Most people like to talk about themselves.  That’s why listening is so important.  You can gain a reputation as a great conversationalist – even if you don’t say much.  Listening is that important. 

Of course, adding your thoughts to the conversation doesn’t hurt – as long as you keep them focused on what the other person is saying.  If you absolutely need to change the subject, let him or her know.  Say something like, “I understand and appreciate what you’re saying.  If we’re done with that topic, I need to speak with you about something else.  OK?”

In her new book, CEO Material, my friend Debra Benton has a lot to say about listening and conversation.  Here is a small sample…

“The best way to influence others is with your ears.  If you listen in a way that causes people to feel heard, you’ll hear things right the first time, maintain the self esteem of others, build better relationships, see nuances.

“Shut out other people and distractions, and stop thinking about what anyone else is thinking or your response.  Take of your headphones, stop texting, turn off your cell phone, put away your Blackberry.  Don’t doodle; fidget with your hands, arms or fingers’ squirm; body rock: or get up and move around (like you have ADD).  Instead, lean forward, tilt your head a little, give some eye contact, and maybe throw in a brow furrow, don’t glance around or act bored, disbelieving, or disagreeing.  Just listen to the person who is talking, remember what he or she says, and say some of it back to that person later. 

“Don’t quit listening if you don’t like what you’re hearing.  Pay attention to complete information.  Try to make sense of the data, even if you don’t agree.  Not every misguided opinion needs to be corrected by you.  Pick your battles, as they say.  You’ll create calm for both of you — and the other person will more likely listen to you also.”

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are dynamic communicators.  Conversation skills are one key to becoming a dynamic communicator.  Listening is at the heart of being a good conversationalist.  If you want to become known as a good conversationalist, do three things: 1) Ask lots of questions.  2) Really listen to what the other person is saying.  3) Respond appropriately.  If you make sure the other person knows you are tuned in and paying attention, you’ll be able to conduct a productive conversation with just about anyone you meet – and become known as a dynamic communicator.

That’s my take on listening, conversations and success.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts and ideas with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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