Over time I have seen a number of great posts and quotes from some very intelligent people about the power of listening. One of these articles, written by Bruce Kasanoff, touched on some important points to consider.

I found the power of truly listening years ago when I first started attending networking functions for a number of companies, and I still use these techniques today.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Listening as a Strategic Tool: The article emphasizes that effective listening, particularly in professional settings like networking events, can significantly enhance understanding and connections.
  2. Responding vs. Reacting: The crucial difference lies in listening with the intent to respond thoughtfully, rather than reacting impulsively, allowing for more meaningful exchanges.
  3. Benefits of Active Listening:
    • Deeper Knowledge: Gaining insights into individuals, their businesses, and industries, enabling more tailored and relevant interactions.
    • Personal Connection: Building rapport by showing genuine interest in others’ experiences and challenges.
    • Strategic Insights: Understanding the specific needs and pain points of others, facilitating the alignment of your offerings to address these issues.
  4. Techniques for Effective Listening:
    • Focus on asking open-ended questions about the person, their company, and their experiences.
    • Truly listen without formulating a response while the other person is speaking, to fully absorb what is being shared.
  5. The Power of Inquiry: Demonstrating genuine curiosity about others encourages reciprocity, leading them to show interest in you and your business.
  6. Improving Business Relationships: This approach not only enhances personal knowledge and industry understanding but also paves the way for creating valuable partnerships and alliances.
  7. Practical Application: Employing this technique of listening to respond thoughtfully, based on an understanding of the conversational partner’s needs, can significantly impact your professional success and personal growth.

Listening to Respond not React is the Key

While everyone else at the networking functions were excited and eager to give their 2 minute introduction of who they were, what they did and what their company did.

I came to the realisation that if I actually listened to this and asked them questions about this, I not only learned more about them and their company, but when they had finished talking, they were suddenly interested in me and my company and they were ready to listen themselves.

I found the benefits of this type of listening became invaluable not only to me, but to any business which I was involved in.

I was able to learn more about the business, the industry they in and more personal information about the person Some of the benefits from this type of listening included the following:

  • Knowledge about the person (able to find relatable conversation points);
  • Knowledge about the Business (able to tailor any responses for your solution to match their needs with your service/product);
  • Knowledge about the industry (ability to identify current and future potential for this market);
  • Knowledge about their clients (ability to identify potential synergies with this person and their company);
  • Knowledge about the pains which they are experiencing, the business and the industry are all experiencing

All of this was through a simple 5 minute conversation and the right technique of listening.

What is the Problem with Listening to Respond?

The answer is, when you listen to respond, as Bruce mentioned in his article.

We are generally formulating and answer in our head while the person is talking, i.e. we can miss vital points which might change what we were going to say. The other point is that we stop actually listening and asking questions at this point because we want to say something.

How do I Truly Listen?

The secret behind truly listening is to be the first person to ask about them, what they do and show true interest in what the person has to say. This way you listen with an open mind and take in as much of what they have to say as possible.

Ask questions like the following:

  • What do you do?
  • What does your company do?
  • What did you do before you joined this company?
  • How have you found this change?
  • How is the company going?
  • What are some of the biggest issues which you have faced?

By asking open questions like this, you gain invaluable knowledge. You listen to respond not react.

By the time you have all of the information that you would like, they will ask you what you do or who you work for.

Take a deep breath and this will give you time to formulate and answer which is structured around their needs or their client’s needs.

By doing this type of listening you are on your way to help improve your knowledge, improve your potential for success and gain some very powerful alliances and friends along the way.