Success: It's All in the Ears - Business Consulting of The Woodlands
Coaches, books, seminars, podcasts, mastermind groups. They’re all wonderful ways of learning how to be successful in life, both personally and professionally. However, there’s one unbeatable tool that gives the best hints in every situation, and it’s already in your possession.
Say hello to your ears.
In today’s quick-moving world, we spend less and less time listening to one another. That’s why it makes such a powerful impression when someone gives us their undivided attention. They give us a lift, make us feel smart, scintillating, important. Funnily enough, even when we do all the talking, that one person who really listens to us leaves us thinking, “Wow! Now that’s a great conversationalist!” He may not be a great conversationalist, but he is one thing: he’s smart. He understands how to win with you. He comprehends the power of making other people feel heard. Furthermore, through active listening, he comes to understand what makes you tick, and that helps him to establish a quick rapport.
If you could understand how to win with just about everyone with whom you come in contact, you’d no doubt experience success on a whole new level. The secret is in the listening.
Here’s how to improve your listening skills for a better life right now:
1. Focus on the speaker. Distractions are everywhere these days. If you’re glancing at your smartphone or gazing out a window when you’re supposed to be having a conversation with the person across from you, you’re clearly not paying attention – and they will notice. Keep your concentration on the person speaking. You don’t want to stare too intensely into his or her eyes, as that can make one or both of you uneasy. Some experts advise settling your gaze on the space between a person’s eyes to convey attentiveness without giving off a serial killer vibe.
2. Make the conversation more about them, not you. If you want to make someone feel like a million bucks and walk away with a stellar opinion of you, let them do most of the talking. Ask open-ended questions – that is, questions that require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, instead of “Do you like movies?”, you’d want to ask, “What good movies have you seen lately?”
3. Don’t interrupt. Where is your mind when you’re listening to someone speak? If you’re listening correctly, you’re thinking about what the speaker is saying, and not what you want to say next. Butting in and talking over a speaker to get in your two cents is a bad habit. It makes the other person in the conversation feel dismissed and unheard. It’s also a terribly common habit, and one that’s well worth breaking.
4. Learn to read body language. If you’re only paying attention to the spoken words, you’re only receiving part of the message. To truly understand where a person is coming from, watch their gestures, notice their posture, and key in to the emotions behind their words. As an example, body language experts say that a person’s feet are usually facing the direction where they’d most like to be. In other words, if you’re having a conversation with a gentleman and both of his feet are facing you, he is most likely genuinely absorbed in the discussion and enjoying your company. If he has one foot pointed towards the door, however, that’s an indication that he’d prefer to be elsewhere. There are some great books out there on interpreting body language. Any one would make a great investment.
5.Show that you’re listening. Here’s a way to use your own body language to demonstrate that you’re fully listening to the speaker. Nod occasionally and use facial expressions to communicate understanding. Now and then, restate back to the person what they’ve already said, but using slightly different words. (For example, the speaker says, “I feel like I never get to catch my breath. I go directly from the office to making dinner and helping the kids with homework.” You might respond, “It sounds like you could use a little down time.”)
There are many good reasons to become a better listener. When you’re really paying attention, you can learn a lot. You never know where a great piece of advice or inspiration may come from. By listening, you may find that you’re speaking with your next partner, mentor or customer. By listening, you also create a quick, powerful sense of rapport. You’ll seem like a superhero without really having to do much. It’s one of the easiest skills to practice, and best of all, you can start today.