Monday, November 5, 2012
Sometimes it pays to keep your mouth shut. Listening to what someone else has to say can be more powerful than saying anything at all. We all want to be heard, and if you give others the opportunity to speak they will love you for it. Nobody likes people who dominate the conversation with their jokes or opinions or is thining about their own agenda as you talk. I see salesmen do that quite often - rather than listening to their customer, they are thinking about how they will sell their product. In doing that, you miss subtle but very important information on what your customer is actually feeling.
Saying less can also make what you say more powerful when you actually do speak. I tend to be someone who talks a lot, and makes dozens of jokes in any given conversation. This leads me to say something dumb or embarrassing pretty regularly. Or I might ask a question that they have already answered, but my focus was somewhere else. If I am an active listener, I tend to put my foot in my mouth less and less. Listening is a skill and I am working on it. I just haven't mastered it yet!
The biggest thing I have learned about listening is to actually care about the conversation and not be thinking ahead on how I will answer or joke about the subject matter. Instead of waiting until it is my turn to talk, I try to take sincere interest in what the other person is saying. If you are genuinely interested in what someone has to say it comes across and they notice. It may seem like common sense, but if you think back to your recent conversations I bet you paid attention less than you realize. So stop talking and start listening - you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.