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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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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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