Most people assume that the key to business success is talking. However, you can take your networking and business strategy to the next level by working on your listening – especially active listening. Think of it like dribbling a basketball. If you are naturally right-handed, then dribbling a basketball with your right hand comes easily. But, if you want to be your best, you need to spend extra time on dribbling with your left hand. The key to dribbling success is balance. We’re sure you have spent a lot of time honing your speaking skills, but what about your listening skills?
Shift Your Focus
Let’s be honest, in many business conversations you have a clear goal. Active listening involves shifting your focus from trying to achieve your goal and express yourself to trying to understand what the other person is trying to say. The goal is to completely understand what they are saying, not be rehearsing what you want to say in response or trying to express yourself. In the end, you will still achieve your goal, but you have to be focused on the other person.
Focus All of Your Attention
Active listening involves focusing on the other person. It’s almost impossible to listen to the other person if you are mentally multi-tasking. Your focus should even involve your body language. You’ll want to pay attention to natural posture and clear eye contact. Think about this when you are setting up a conversation. If you are meeting for coffee or lunch, make sure that you are seated in an area that will not distract you so that you can focus all of your attention on what the other person is saying.
Stay on Topic
When you are engaged in a networking or business conversation, watch out for distractions. One of the biggest distractions is getting off topic. As the conversation develops, ask questions and give feedback, but make sure they stay on topic. Don’t ask a question that segues into a new topic before the other person is finished. Definitely, don’t ask a question just to segue into something that you want to talk about. Active listening involves letting the person say all of what they are trying to say.
Finish on the Same Page
One key tip for active listening and business success is to make sure that you finish the conversation together on the same page. One part of listening is summarizing what the person has said. This lets them know that you have listened and care about what they are saying. Also, make sure to summarize any agreed upon next steps or action items. This ensures clear communication.
Good communication skills, including active listening, are vital to your business success. At the Network Ninjas, we help you with CRM tools to make sure that you are making the most of your communications. Stay organized and in sync with your team using one of our CRM software. We’re here to help you network like a ninja!