Listen a hundred times. Ponder a thousand times. Speak once.
There’s a big difference between hearing – that is, simply receiving communication – and truly listening, which is the art of paying thoughtful attention with a mind toward understanding the complete message being delivered. Unlike simply hearing someone’s account, listening requires maintaining eye contact, watching the person’s body language, asking for clarification, and listening for the unspoken message.
Another way people fail to listen carefully is to be too concerned with being interesting themselves, rather than being interested in the person they’re listening to. They believe the route to success is to constantly talk – showing off their expertise or intelligence with their words and comments.
The best way to establish rapport with people and to win them over to your side is to be truly interested in them, to listen with the intention of really learning about them. When the person feels that you are really interested in getting to know them, and their feelings, they will open up to you and share their true feelings with you much more quickly.
If you want people to cooperate with you, to like you, or to open up to you, you must be interested…in them. Instead of focusing on yourself, start focusing on others. Notice what makes them happy or unhappy. When your thoughts are more on others than on yourself, you feel less stress. You can act and respond with more intelligence. Your production level increases and you have more fun. Additionally, when you are interested, people respond to your interest in them they want to be around you. Your popularity increases.
Once Einstein was invited to give lectures about his theory, in a number of colleges. So, he hired a driver to take him to these colleges. The driver asked Einstein if he could also attend these lectures. After listening to the same lecture a number of times the driver learnt it by heart and requested Einstein if he could give the same lecture in a college pretending to be Einstein. Once the driver was able to deliver the speech, somebody from the audience asked him a question. The driver then candidly said that his driver could even answer this question. Sometimes we without listening to questions being asked give answers that are unrelated. It is therefore most crucial that we actually listen to what is being asked before attempting to answer.
One of the most powerful communication tools is a series of four questions that you can ask. They are one of the most effective to establish rapport and create a feeling of connection with another person. They are as follows: -
- If we were meeting three years from today, what has to have happened during that three-year period for you to feel happy about your progress?
- What are the biggest dangers you’ll have to face and deal with in order to achieve that progress?
- What are the biggest opportunities that you have that you would need to focus on and capture to achieve those things?
- What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills and resources will you need to develop that you don’t currently have in order to capture those opportunities?
Use these questions with every potential business client or business colleague. Once they have been answered, you’ll know whether or not there is a basis for a relationship. You’ll know whether or not your products and services can help them achieve their goals.
If you find they don’t want to answer these questions, then they are not people you want to do business with, because they are either unaware of their future and can’t think ahead, which will make it hard for you to help them, or they are unwilling to tell you the answers, which means that there is no trust present, so you have nothing to build on – no basis for a relationship.
Make sure to take yourself through the same four questions either alone on a piece of paper or verbally with a friend or mastermind partner. It’s a valuable exercise.
About The Author
Vijay Batra is an MBA, from University of Pittsburgh, USA and a graduate of the Japan Management Program from JAIMS, Hawaii, USA. He joined Kankaku Securities (subsidiary of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank) as a lifetime employee in 1987.