It's not just about what you say, but how you say it. However, what we're saying may not be helping our cause either. In four years of building my business, one of the most important skills that I've had to learn had little to do with speaking, and nearly everything to do with listening.
Learning about someone or getting to know them is a futile effort if we can't keep our traps shut. Success in business boils down to relationships. Successful relationships boils down to your ability to connect with the other person. Connections begin and end with listening. The old saying goes, "God made us with two ears and one mouth for a reason".
"We aren't in the coffee business, serving people. We're in the people business, serving coffee."
~ Nabi Saleh (co-owner of Gloria Jeans Coffees)
We process thoughts at about ten times the speed we're able to voice them. A large part of connecting with people has to do with quieting our minds, and giving our full attention to them. That means; not thinking about our response; taking in the entire conversation; letting it process and putting yourself in their shoes; showing empathy for their situation. It's not easy, and it certainly takes practice.
Near the top of my list of "Annoying Personal Habits I Need To Nix" was - always giving my opinion after the other individual was through speaking. Sometimes people want advice. Sometimes they just want to vent. You'll know when your two cents are warranted and when you need to just lend an ear.
Becoming a better listener allows you to:
- Build better, stronger relationships
- Learn and retain more information
- Show a genuine interest in others
- Avoid miscommunication and save time
- Build self-esteem in others
The only time selective hearing or miscommunicating works to your benefit:
Morris, an 82 year old man, went to the doctors to get a physical. A few days later the doctor noticed Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. Later that week the doctor phoned Morris and said, "Morris, I saw you walking down the street the other day and you seemed to be in such great spirits!" Morris says, "Thanks Doc, just doing what you said: Get a hot momma and be cheerful." The doctor says, "I didn't say that. I said you have a heart murmur, be careful."
In John Maxwell's "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" he references three questions that people are frequently asking about you:
- Do you care for me?
- Can you help me?
- Can I trust you?
To connect more with others whether at your workplace, home, community, church, etc. become a world-class listener, find out what others are truly interested in by asking more questions, listen more, and work on giving your advice and opinions at the right time or when asked. Just another one of those principles that sound easy, and are anything but that. It takes patience and practice. The positive is that you'll start seeing immediate improvements in your ability to connect with others, and your efforts will not go unnoticed!