How to Be a Better Listener

Here’s another tidbit from The Connectors, by Maribeth Kuzmeski. I reviewed it recently. In the book, Kuzmeski talks about being a more active listener. She provides some fantastic tips.

What Listening Isn’t

We’ve all been there. You’re in a networking event and someone asks what you do. As you drone on, you see them glazing over. Okay, maybe you could give a shorter answer, but the point is: why ask questions if you don’t intend to listen to the answers?

Another “fail” in listening is asking questions people can answer with a simple yes or no. After all, the reason you’re asking questions is to get to know this person better, to see how you can help them or connect them to others. So by asking a yes/no question, you block off the possibility of getting them to open up to you.

How to Listen Better

Kuzmeski gives these tips to become a better listener:

1. Full Attention. My pet peeve is when people check their phones, or worse still, answer them in the middle of a conversation. You’re there to engage, so get off your Crackberry. Turn it off. Put it away. Devote your entire attention to the person you are with.

2. Focus. In a world of multitasking, it can be hard to focus on someone, especially if you’re not too interested in what they’re saying. But do your best. If you find your mind wandering, make yourself aware of it, shift positions and refocus on what your conversation partner is saying.

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