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8 Signs You’re Good At Communication With Listening

8 Signs You’re Good At Communication With Listening

While it is easy to assume that good speakers and public orators are outstanding communicators, these individuals may not have exceptional listening skills. This is a core communication skill, however, and one that studies suggest is continually in decline in workplaces across the globe.

These studies underline two things. Firstly, they suggest that listening skills are suffering amid the remote communication techniques of the digital age. Secondly, they underline the difference between hearing and listening, as while we may hear what others say we do not necessarily understand or empathise with the speaker.

8 Signs you are Good at Listening

In this respect, listening is a rare and special communication skill that is important in all walks of life. Virgin founder Richard Branson also believes that strong leaders must have excellent listening skills, so here are eight signs that you are blessed in this discipline: –

1. You have Strong Empathy as a Good Listener

Empathy is central to good listening, primarily because it enables individuals to truly understand opposing viewpoints. They are also compelled to hear their conversation partners’ out without imparting their own views, making it easier to achievable a beneficial resolution going forward.

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The concept of empathetic listening also underpins mutual trust between individuals, and this is pivotal in both personal and professional relationships.

2. You ask follow-up questions

Similarly, a good listener does not interrupt others’ flow by interjecting with their own stories or insights. Instead, they ask follow-up questions based on what they have just heard, encouraging others to continue to share in an open and frank manner.

If you friend is talking to you about how bad their boss is, for example, emphasise with statements such as ‘oh, that’s a shame’ before asking question such as ‘what did they do?” This allows the conversation to develop organically and to the benefit of both parties.

3. You Know how to respond across all topics

Let’s face facts, we have all participated in discussions where we have minimal interest. Great listeners have an innate ability to respond meaningfully and positively in such conversations, however, as they hone in on relevant points of interest and determine the main snipets of information.

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Such points would also trigger key questions, while great listeners will also repeat certain things that they hear to reinforce their participation in the conversation.

4. You do not react angrily to criticism or points of disagreements

Good listeners tend to be emotionally intelligent, meaning that they are sensitive to their feelings and those of the people around them. This means that they do not react angrily or impulsively to criticism or specific points of disagreement, and instead remain objective until their conversation partner has finished talking.

These emotional responses will be replaced with objective questions, which are designed to learn more and develop far greater insight.

5. You think beyond Words to truly understand your conversation partners

Listening is a broad and fluid art, and one that involves far more than words alone. You must also consider the meaning of tone, gestures and facial experessions, as these also convey messages and help you to understand how those around you are feeling.

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Similarly, you also need to link specific words and thoughts to reveal overall themes and ideas. This demands concentration and focus, but it enables you to use your listening skills to maximise the creativity and cooperation of others.

6. You appreciate listening as a Learning Process

When interacting with others, great listeners consider this to be a tremendous learning process in terms of understanding others and driving self-improvement. Not only this but they also appreciate the process of learning through listening, while continuing to process data as they communicate with others.

Appreciation is crucial, as this helps to maintain your engagement levels and truly benefit from the lessons that are available through the wisdom of others.

7. You use your Body Language to show you are engaged

On a similar note, great listeners also use their own body languages and gestures to underline their engagement with speakers. This entails maintaining eye contact with speakers and undertaking affirmative gestures such as nodding, as you empower others to share their thoughts and reassure them that their voice is being heard.

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From my own experience, this also helps the listener too. I recently attended a conference which discussed a rise in the sale of motorhomes, and while listening I made sure to maintain eye contact with the speaker. This enabled me to process information quickly and easily, while also ensuring that underlying messages were also clearly understood.

8. You realise your shortcomings as a Listener

As strange as it may sound, accepting your shortcomings as a listener is key to optimising your skills and improving in the future. This reflects the fact that no single individual can pick on everything that everyone is saying all of the time, and we must compromise by learning from our respective failures and accepting our imperfections.

The key is that you maintain the intention of listening to others at all time, and forgive yourself in instances where you fail or miss the point of what people are saying. Without this attitude, you will struggle to develop your skills and instead spend your time berating yourself for failures.

Ultimately, these points should help you to understand truth about listening skills and appreciate your own abilities. It may also offer you inspiration to improve in the future, as you look to become a more studious, thoughtful and most importantly good listener. 

Featured photo credit: Dumb Little Man via dumblittleman.com

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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