You always hear how you should be listening to people, but it’s not often you really try to apply it and get real world feedback from it.
Recently I read How To Win Friends and Influence People again. Seems like I’d forgotten about 90% of the principles in there. If you suck at networking, read this immediately.
With all the meetings and networking going on in this business, it seemed like the perfect time to really put some of it into practice.
The big things (IMO):
- Asking questions that get the other person talking about themselves
- Let the other person do most of the talking
- Be genuinely interested in them and what they have to say
- Give sincere compliments
- Don’t freaking interrupt
This last one is a real sore spot. If someone is talking about problems they are having, the brain starts going 100 miles an hour with ways to solve it and before you know it, it’s materialised itself into some words spewing out of your mouth in the middle of someone’s sentence.
That’s REALLY shit. Just let them talk about their problems first. Write your ideas down if you have to.
Lately I’ve been squashing the hell out of this, and really paying attention to the points above. Today I had a 3 hour meeting with a crazy busy woman who runs a company with over 50 employees. On my balcony. No way did I think I’d get 3 hours. To be honest I thought she’d want to be out of here ASAP.
Towards the end she said:
The thing that is different about you is that you actually listen. And I appreciate that.
Boom, nailed it.
I think the key is the genuine part. It’s a bit weird, because saying “be genuinely interested” is kind of a contradiction. How the hell do you just ‘be’ genuinely interested in someone?
The thing is, everyone has something interesting going on. If you can get that out of them by asking questions and getting them to talk about themselves, you BECOME interested in what they are saying.
By no means am I an expert in people yet, but this seems like a pretty big leap.