By Alan Graner
If you think the opposite of talking is listening, you’re wrong.
The opposite of talking is…waiting to talk.
You know what I’m saying. You’ve seen it a hundred times. You’re talking to someone when the telltale signs begin to appear: the fidgeting, the jerky hand movements, the sharp intake of breath, the slight leaning forward, the excited eyes.
At that moment you realize they haven’t heard a word you’ve said; they’re too busy thinking about what they’re about to say. Like a predatory animal they prepare to pounce/ When you pause, they attack.
Don’t be too harsh with them. It’s an unfortunate truth that most of us have never learned the art of listening.
Learning how to listen
To listen effectively you must:
- Give up the urge to interrupt. Once people know they have the floor, they relax and open up.
- Make appropriate sounds to encourage them to keep on speaking.
- Look directly at them, especially if you’re at some kind of gathering. It’s a bit insulting if you are constantly scanning the room to see if there’s someone more important/interesting/attractive to talk to.
- Go beyond superficial polite conversation. Ask probing questions that require more in-depth information/analysis/opinion. By asking questions you accomplish two important tasks: 1) it indicates you’ve listened, and 2) you’re interested in hearing more. Few people can resist this.
For further instruction, watch your loveable dog. Canines learned the art of listening eons ago.
What’s in it for you?
When you listen you can learn lots of amazing tips, tricks of the trade, strategic information, more efficient ways of doing things, perhaps even new ideas that will help you attain success.
You might make a new friend, a strategic ally, a mentor, a referrer, someone who can open doors that were previously closed.
Surprisingly, you’ll also gain a reputation as an amazing conversationalist.
Any listening skills you’d like to add?
Image: Elsie esq.
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA marketing communications firm. For a public relations campaign that will get prospects and customers listening to you, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.