Listen Your Way to Career Success

You can create your career success by becoming a dynamic communicator.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator you need to become a great conversationalist, a clear concise writer and a dynamic presenter.  Today I want to discuss how to become a great conversationalist.

Listening 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.

Here are my thoughts on 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 career success coach point here is simple common sense.  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.

That’s my career advice on how to become a great conversationalist by listening well.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site on September 1.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  To celebrate the grand opening, I’m giving away a new career advice book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb.  You can find out about the membership site and get the career advice in I Want YOU… for free by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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