Speaking So Others Will LISTEN

I’m always trying to learn how to engage people in new ways.  I’m a firm believer in PRESENCE, in that if you have presence, people will listen to what you say.  But there’s also a few tricks that I’ve learned along the way.  Here are a few to share: 

1.  To capture someone’s attention, start the sentence with the person’s name.  When they hear you say their name, it makes people feel special and often compels them to listen to what comes next.

2.  When you’re on the phone with someone, SMILE when you’re talking.  It makes your voice come across as friendlier and it makes people want to listen to you.  I tell my mentees to always have a mirror on their desk so they can ensure they SEE themselves smiling when talking on the phone.

3.  Stop saying the word “BUT…” It often negates everything that was said before it and is generally a big turnoff.  Replace it with “And…”

4.  Stop saying the word “SHOULD”  It makes people feel as if they’re being lectured to, and it might just make them ignore what you’re saying entirely.  Replace it with “How about if we…”

5.  Own your voice.  When you’re upset, hurt or angry, always begin by saying “I feel…” or “I think…”  It takes the harshness out of your anger.  If you start there, you will almost guaranteed have a better outcome.

6.  Make eye contact immediately…people have super short attention spans!  Eye contact says “I’m listening to you” without being so overt.  And it makes you pay attention more too.

7. Truly LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN and don’t just “build your response” while the other person is speaking.  Often when others speak we are just waiting for a break for us to jump in and share OUR experience of that same thing.  Instead (and I learned this in Singapore), PAUSE for 10 seconds after the person is done speaking, THEN make your comment.  NOTE:  this is totally and amazingly hard to do.  Just keep practicing!

When we take the time to listen to others and speak in ways that show that we care, it allows others to engage with us in more meaningful ways, and strengthens our relationships.  And when people feel heard, they feel safe enough to share their own ideas and thinking back…and that’s when we get the best of our people.

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