I thought the last episode of networking tips shared by the women in this community was going to wrap up the series but as I was chatting with a friend I realized there was still more to share.
Bear with me because I’m going to keep going until I’ve wrung this topic out. Networking is so crucial to our success in our careers and in our business I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.
I’ve discussed the opportunities to do group networking and broke down the key elements of the one-to-one meeting. Now I want to share with you a skill that if you can focus on and constantly improve, will have everything else fall into place more easily.
The skill is listening.
We’re often told we need to listen more or listen better but we’re never told how to do it.
This is a complaint I hear from many people about getting information from the gurus out there. We are told what to do, and that’s great, but we’re not told how to do it so we waste time and energy spinning our wheels and then feeling like we got the wrong information.
And this skill doesn’t just impact your ability to network effectively, it impacts all the interactions you have with others. The better you are at listening the better you will be at sales, negotiating, building a team, handling customer complaints, getting buy-in, being heard and considered, and giving constructive feedback.
I’m going to share with you 3 different levels of listening and the results you can get from each.
The Three Levels of Listening
The most basic level of listening is subjective listening. You don’t have to put any effort into listening at this level as it’s the type of listening we grant most people and other people grant us.
As it is subjective the listening is focused on you as the listener. This may sound odd because you’re thinking the person talking should be the subject but the reality is when we are bringing this level of listening we are paying closer attention to our internal dialogue than we are to the other person, though you may not be aware of it.
As the other person is talking you listen through the filter of, “What has this to do with me?”
You are listening for commonalities and information you can respond to or use.
You know you’re brining this level of listening if when you get bored or irritated by what the other person is saying you start to check out. Because you have decided that what they are saying is not important to you, you no longer want to be in the conversation.
There is nothing wrong with this level of listening, per se. It is part of our wiring for survival and making our way in the world to see and hear everything through a filter of, “is this important to me?”
Example of Subjective Listening
The person you are talking to: “I had the toughest time trying to get myself up a half hour earlier to take my morning walk.”
You respond: “Yeah, I have a hard time waking up in the morning too.”
Or, you respond: “You know what I do? I go to bed a half hour early at night.”
The first response will likely go over better than the second. Rule of thumb, don’t jump in with advice unless you’ve been asked for it.
Since this is the type of listening we are typically giving and receiving hardly anyone would think there was a problem with the conversation. We are often trying to find commonalities with the people we are first meeting so a response like “me too!” is not uncalled for but the rewards are so much greater if you can hold off on that for a little bit.
The second level of listening is objective listening. If this is as far as you get you will still be an effective listener and networker.
When you are listening objectively you are completely focused on the person you are talking to.
Though your mind chatter will still be going on you don’t give it that much attention. Though you will of course notice commonalities if there are any, you are not overly concerned with how the information relates personally to you.
You are listening to understand what the other person is saying. You may reflect back what they’ve said to you to make sure you got it right and you’ll ask follow-up questions to get a better understanding of what they are telling you.
Example of Objective Listening
You respond: “You’re taking on walking first thing in the morning. What brought this on?”
Can you see how energetically this type of listening makes for a richer conversation as opposed to saying “me too” or “this is what you should do”?
Even if you are in fact also getting up earlier to walk in the morning hold off for a few minutes to keep your attention on the other person. They will appreciate it.
This type of listening is very effective, but doesn’t get to the “heart” of the matter.
The highest level of listening you can bring is intuitive listening. And when I say intuitive I don’t mean you got magical messages from the universe.
Intuitive listening is paying attention to what the speaker is saying as well as taking in their tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, word choice, their overall energy level, the feelings they are expressing, etc.
It’s paying attention to what’s NOT being said. This is the most powerful form of listening and allows you to really connect with the other person.
You not only want to understand what they are saying you want to understand why what they are saying is important to them. It’s the complete opposite of subjective listening.
The goal is to really know who the other person is as a human being and what their core values are. You want them to walk away from the conversation with you thinking, “They really get me.”
If you can leave someone with that experience you will be memorable and hold more sway in their mind.
Example of Intuitive Listening
Although you will likely not be diving in with a typical intuitive listening response at the beginning of a topic here’s what it might sound like…
The person you are talking to: I had the toughest time trying to get myself up a half hour earlier to take my morning walk.
You respond: It sounds like you really want to do this, you really want to live a healthy lifestyle, but you’re not used to it yet and you’re finding it to be challenging and maybe a little frustrating.
Don’t be afraid to dive in and take a stab at it. Even if you get it wrong the other person will explain why you have it wrong without thinking any less of you.
In fact, most people enjoy the opportunity to really explain themselves and make sure the person listening to them really understands where they are coming from. As long as you get to that point it doesn’t matter that you were off the mark at first.
And let me tell you if you can provide someone with the experience of being truly heard and feeling like you get them, you have sped up the relationship building process. You are well on your way to building trust, respect, and if you want, friendship.
I can’t underscore enough how important it is for you to develop your ability to listen with your entire being. It will radically change your life. You will show up differently to those who know you and they will start interacting with you more positively and appreciatively.
Do me a favor, if you know anyone who would love to get those benefits please share this episode with them. The more people walking the earth with intuitive listening skills the better the planet will be.
I hope this was helpful to you and here’s to your success!
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