The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas, and support. The most important skill for effective business networking is listening; focusing on how you can help the person you are listening to rather than on how he or she can help you is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.
Empathic listening is a choice. Audioapathy is a word I coined to describe the condition often experienced when people become apathetic about listening when other people are talking. It is a dreaded dis-ease that can poison your relationship. Although it appears that men are more affected than women, some women also get it.
Hearing is involuntary. You can be sound asleep and still hear something or someone, but listening is voluntary. It is an intellectual and emotional choice. It implies effective communication between the sender and the receiver, which hearing does not.
Learn to listen. You don’t learn anything from hearing yourself talk. – Leo Buscaglia
It is a wise person who, when someone is talking, stops what they are doing, makes eye contact and truly listens to what they is saying. Very wise. It may be difficult to listen to what a customer or client have to say, however, if the truth hurts – be grateful. When someone is talking to you, listen for the truth about what they are saying instead of going on the defensive. That only keeps you stuck.
If you are apathetic about what others are saying and focus only on talking about “your” business in a networking group you will only drive business away. Networking demands that you increase your listening skills. One of the most important things in listening is also to “hear” what “Isn’t being said?” This is especially true in personal relationships.
In business as in personal relationships it may take courage for a customer or client to express their feelings if they haven’t been used to doing so. To immediately defend your own position (or to disagree or argue) invalidates their feelings and usually serves to turn off future sharing possibilities.
Listen for the opportunity to assist the relationship by taking responsibility for what you may be doing that trips their trigger and causes them to make a choice to feel the way they do.
Empathic listening gets inside your partner’s frame of reference. You see their world the way they see it, you understand their paradigm, you understand how they “feel.”
Apathetic listeners breed contempt, resentment and often the person who desperately needs to be heard eventually shuts down. A lack of effective communication is the number one problem in all relationships.
Listen more and talk less. You can’t learn anything when you’re talking. How do you spell success in a business relationship? Be wise. Listen. L-I-S-T-E-N.
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Can’t find my book in your bookstore, order a signed copy from Larry James. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!
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