The power of actually listening

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.

2 Responses to The power of actually listening

  1. Tony March 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Fully agree on everything except the let the other person do most of the talking. This one needs to be made up on the fly depending on the person you are talking too. Allot of people I come a in contact with in business especially want to be spoken to mainly because they don’t fully understand the works that are being done. That being said I’m sure it’s different for all industries. And imagine if the two parties both play by these rules. Failure.

  2. Jimmy March 17, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    Would be failure indeed. All rules are meant to be broken at some point, but these are more like guidelines. If they start asking heaps of questions then you’re going to end up doing a lot of talking. If that happens you’re probably onto a winner anyway.

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