6 steps to building better relationships. Step one is SHUT UP.

I am a business book junkie (Step #1 is admit that you have a problem, right?).  Fortunately this habit has upsides.  For example, common themes are very obvious when one has several books on the go.

One such theme is the power of listening.  Whether you are reading about winning friends & influencing people, leadership, effective habits, coaching or cold calling, 99% of authors advise us to “listen more than we talk”.  We’ve all heard this before, so why are they re-stating the obvious?  Well, as the old saying goes, “common sense is not always common practice”.

Here are a few reasons we forget to listen based on my observations  (I won’t tell you which one I was guilty of this week):

  • Passion and excitement can overpower patience
  • Everyone likes to be heard, it makes us feel important
  • Being “right” is like a drug, it feels good even though it is bad for you
  • We forget we’re more interesting when we are more interested
  • Crackberry or iPhone addiction

No one is perfect, nor will we ever be.  That’s just life, but reviewing and recommitting to the goal of effective listening will help your relationships in a big way.

People do business with people that authentically care about them.  Listening is the primary way to demonstrate that you care.  Here is a list of 6 points that I keep tacked on my wall.  Hopefully, they will be a useful reminder for you too.

1.   Shut up!  The less you talk the more you’re liked.

Example: Many people feel that unless they are talking about their product, a sales meeting will not succeed.  Mistake!  Buying is about trusting and liking.  Again, people buy from those they like, know and trust. Show people you care by shutting up.  The more you listen, the more you will sell.

2.   Listen with your body

 Body language is as important as verbal communication:

    •  Maintain eye contact
    • Lean slightly forward most of the time
    • “Mirror” the speakers body to a degree, this happens naturally for most people when they connect authentically, but watch your body language just in case
    • Nod to let them know you are hearing them
    • Speak only occasionally, to communicate “I’m hearing you”.
    • Smile or frown in accordance with what is being said

 3.   Concentrate on the speaker exclusively

You know how it feels when someone stops mid-conversation, or half concentrates, while using their mobile phone or tablet.  If you MUST take a call or send an email, at least apologize and excuse yourself at an appropriate point in the conversation.  Show respect by owning your bad manners.  If you are on the phone, don’t forget that the listener can hear your keyboard when you email.  This is a great way to make someone think you’re a jerk.

 4.    Know about the speaker, do your homework

Whenever a person remembers a detail about me, I feel they CARE.  When they show an authentic interest in things I care about, I feel they CARE.  If you want to do deals or make friends, you’d better keep notes or do your homework on people in your network.  Fortunately, this has never been easier.  Social media and the thousands of resources on the web make this dead easy.

 5.  Listen, listen and then listen again.  Build relationships not connections

Build over time.  Build on credibility.  Build on REPEATED demonstrations that you care.  Listening and rapport building is not just a step in the process, it is a process.  Focus on what the other person cares about, even if it is not work related, and do it frequently.  I know how hard this is for some of us.  We just want to get to work, but remind yourself that investing in relationships saves time in the end…it may even save a deal.

6.   Add YOUR personal step here and then review from time-to-time

We all have our own particular listening challenges, so I encourage you to make your own list, then put a note in your calendar to remind you to listen from time-to-time.

I would love to get your thoughts on effective communication.  Do you agree with my points?  Do you have advice that you can share that is missing from my post?

I look forward to hearing from you.


2 thoughts on “6 steps to building better relationships. Step one is SHUT UP.

  1. I’m surprised no one’s yet replied. This is absolute GOLD and I’d say it’s as equally valuable for personal relationships as it is for those in business. People are people, whether during work hours or not. It’s natural for many people, myself included, to want to dominate a conversation either because we’re excited about the topic and/or we feel more authoritative about it.

    However, I can say with firsthand knowledge that when I’ve actively practiced effective listening as described in this article, the results have been dramatically different, even more so than I had expected.

    The key is turning it from active intent to natural behavior.

  2. Whether it’s selling or networking the message is the same. Somehow many have the idea that the more they are heard the better. We all could use an improvement in listening skills.
    Two ears, one mouth…there’s a reason.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: