Become a Better Listener. It builds relationships and business.

Be honest. How many times have you been in the middle of a conversation and you have no idea what the other person is saying. Somewhere, somehow you just drifted off. You got lost along the way.

What made you veer off course? What pulled your attention away from the interaction with a client or a potential one? Those distractions vary and change depending on if you’re with the person or on the phone. Can’t we close our laptops, shut off our iPads, and turn off our desktops?

Maybe you commit the biggest sin of all when it comes to false listening. You’re on a call and you placed the person on speaker, you mute yourself and check email with the touch of an app. Admit it, you’ve done it or it’s been done to you.

Another of the cardinal sins and one that’s committed on a daily basis is the head bob. You signal during the conversation that yes you are listening and understand but you really aren’t. Be prepared if the person speaking gets frustrated and says, “What did I just say”?

If you’re too busy to listen here are some suggestions. Reschedule the call, meeting, dinner or lunch. Be honest. Tell the person with whom you are connecting the reason for re-racking. Limit the distractions. Don’t look at email. If possible isolate yourself somewhere quiet for a phone call. If you’re in a meeting put the phone away.

Here’s the thing. When you aren’t paying attention to what’s being said and lose chunks of a conversation you are slowly killing a relationship. I’m sorry but I don’t want to give my love, time or money to someone who can’t commit to being an active listener. How bout’ you?

What is Influential Listening™?

As a speaker, listening is critical to a successful appearance for me. Long before I get on the stage or interact with an audience I am using what I call influential listening skills. When I talk with a Booker, Meeting Planner or anyone from a Speakers Bureau I stop what I’m doing and focus on the conversation. If I don’t I’m dead in the water. Meaning, how can I understand the desired outcome, negotiate with a clear head and make sure we both are on the same page if I’m not truly listening.

How many of you in sales are frustrated when a deal falls apart? Were you truly paying attention and listening to what the client was conveying? Too often especially when selling we listen to reply not to understand. Think you’re not in sales and this doesn’t apply? We are all is sales! Ever negotiate with a lawn service, your kids to do homework, your significant other on where you want to go to dinner? I thought so.

The top influential listening skill is focusing on the conversation not what you’re going to say next. To get to that point you have to stop multi-tasking. Quit answering email and even texting when you’re on the phone. If a nanny cam was trained on you during a conference call what would you be doing? Clear the mind clutter. Take some deep breaths and give your brain a break from to-do lists and what’s next on the agenda. If it’s noisy and you’re distracted call the person back.

If the interaction is in person turn your phone off. Ask questions to show you are paying attention and  know exactly what’s being said. Listening skills are critical now more than ever in a world with shrinking attention spans.  If you can master becoming an Influential Listener you’ll cultivate deeper connections and reap the rewards of bigger and better business deals.

What’s Your Wow?

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Did you know that the average adult has an 8 second attention span? It’s true! Now more than ever it’s important to be clear, concise and comfortable in conversations with people you’ve just met. How many times have you found yourself fumbling around for an answer to the question – What do you do?

Why does this give us so much trouble? For many people it’s simply not knowing how to describe what we do. Others do so much they try to mention every project, job and organization that they’re involved in without stopping for air.

One of my favorite things to do in my communication workshops or when I’m coaching a client is finding out their WOW. Here are a few quick tips on trying to find yours. First, clear your mind and write down everything you think of that best describes you. Then write down jobs that you’ve done, places you visited and true passions. Also put down a few things people would surprised to learn about you.

Let me give you an example. I have a friend who owns a flower shop. If you meet Sean for the first time and ask what he does he’d say he single-handedly is responsible for 5,000 smiles a year. Here’s another good one.  My friend Sara is an architect but her response to the What do you do question? She makes people look up. She’s done a few skyscrapers.

Once you think you found your wow you need to live it for awhile. Practice it with the people around you. Does this best describe who you are and what you do? Your Wow by the way doesn’t have to be a career or job. It could be that you’ve painted every type of sunset imaginable or you’ve collected  500 shells from beaches all over the world.

So, What’s Your Wow?

Notes From the Scoreboard

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Everyone also asks me what the secret is being a good communicator.  At first I found that question hard to answer. Now I’m 100% sure that after 12,000 interviews there is one thing all good speakers, broadcasters heck good conversationalists have in common. Drum roll please.. It’s Authenticity.

Too often people memorize talking points only to fumble around when they are speaking because it’s not their words. No harm in having an outline if you’re doing a presentation or speech but for goodness sakes make sure you own it. In other words it’s the way you tell a story or make a point not something somebody told you to say.

I truly believe the people who are best at networking do it naturally. What I mean is they act and speak the same way whether they are meeting a famous person or “Joe” down the street. In a world cluttered with technology our face to face communications become even more important, because they are more rare. Don’t blow it by putting too much pressure on yourself to speak a certain way. Be who you are and your conversations, interviews and presentations will sound a whole lot better.