How well do you listen? Last Friday, I went along to a networking event and what happened made me think about listening skills. I asked a fellow networker what she did. What followed was a steady stream of sales pitch. After five minutes, she took a breath and asked me what I did. As soon as I had uttered that I was a coach and trainer, the flood continued. Have you experienced someone speaking at you? She told me how her company could help me, but other than my title, she didn’t know anything about me. After another five minutes she shoved a business card into my hand and told me that she had to go meet someone else! I felt a bit shell-shocked. Now since I do a fair bit of networking I happen to know about four people who do something very similar to her. I have a very good idea about what she does, but do you think I felt any rapport with her? Do you think I would ever do business with her?
I find it amazing how many times people will tell you what you should do or how they can help you without the slightest interest in who you are and what you want. How do you know about anyone unless you ask them and listen to their answer?
Never underestimate the power of listening with your full attention. Most people only listen for a gap in conversation so that they can speak. They appear to be listening, but they are thinking about what they are going to say. When someone listens to you as though you are the only person in the room, you feel very connected to them and you feel valued as a person.
You don’t have to have great oratory skills to have a good conversation. You have two ears and one mouth and those are the proportions we should be using them! The best listeners are generally considered to be the best conversationalists. Try asking people a question such as “What brought you to this event today?” and listen with attention to their answer.
Find out what impact listening can have for yourself.
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The Art of Listening
Have you been rejected? Turned down for a job interview, a pitch, a date…? Have you ever stopped yourself from asking for something because you have been scared of hearing a “no”?
Well, you are in good company, history is littered with famous rejections. My favourite rejection story is Susan Jeffers who wrote the book “Feel the Fear and do it anyway”. She said that her book nearly didn’t happen because she had so many rejections from publishers, one of them even told her that “Lady Di could be cycling nude down the street giving this book away, nobody would read it”. Yet, her book went on to become an international bestseller.
Here’s some news for you; the more you grow and push your boundaries, the more times you will hear “no”. It is not getting rejected that is the problem, but how we feel about it. The difference between success and failure is generally the will to keep on trying. How we handle rejection will influence how successful we can be. Holding ourselves back because we are scared of being rejected, is limiting ourselves. Here are 5 ways to see rejection differently:
- You lose out on 100% of opportunities you don’t go for - Simply put, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It is useful to remind yourself of things you have already achieved that you wouldn’t have, if you hadn’t picked up the phone, written a letter or asked a question. Thinking about something won’t make it happen without some action. Have you stopped yourself from going for something, by thinking yourself out of it? Remember things are only possible if you go for them.
- Your life does not become worse when you ask for something and someone says “no”. It may not be better, but it is no worse. If you ask someone on a date and they say “no”, you didn’t have a date before and you don’t have a date afterward, your life is no worse. If you apply for a position and you don’t get it, you didn’t have the position before and you don’t have the position afterwards, your life is no worse. It only becomes worse in our head if we generalise the experience to include all the times in our life we have been rejected. We are incredibly good at making ourselves feel bad. If you want to make yourself feel even worse, you could even attach the emotion of how you felt when you didn’t get a part in the school play or chosen for the team. Stop it! Make your positive experiences stronger. We all have success stories, write them down. Remember the times when people said “yes” to you and remember how it felt when you weren’t expecting a “yes”.
- Rejection is an event not a person. There is a saying that you put a proposal on the table, it is helpful to think of your proposal (audition, cv, book) as being outside you. Imagine it in a box, when someone rejects your proposal, they are saying “no” to the proposal and not “no” to you. Do not take it personally, the rejection is about the proposal, the skill, the offer. It is not about you. You cannot control other people’s behaviour, but you can change the way you feel about rejection.
- Treat Rejection as Feedback. Use rejection to improve your performance for the next time. Is there something you could have done better? Were you properly prepared? Did you catch the person at the right moment? Try to work out how to improve it each time. Why not use it as a learning tool?
- SWSWSWSW Some will, some won’t. So, what? Someone’s waiting! Remember one person is never statistically significant. Have you ever had a great idea, only to quash it because your other half or friend didn’t like the idea? Imagine taking a poll of one person for an election and gauging the results for the whole country based on that individual! We all need to develop a “next” mentality. If you believe in your idea, there is a strong chance that there is someone out there who agrees with you. You just need to keep on going until you find them!
I hope you have found this useful. I would love to hear your comments!