One of the most important concepts to get over when attempting to build lasting and fruitful relationships is that it’s not about you.
Relationships are built quickly when you are sufficiently in control of your own behaviors and reactions, to understand this critical principle.
People are much more interested in talking about themselves than they are in hearing about you. In fact, when you are prepared to give them lots of listening room, they actually find you a lot more attractive than when you spend time telling them all about what interests you.
We’re all like this!
In a strange quirk of behavioral truth, we get much more from people when they are prepared to give us their full attention and then let us, let rip!
You see, it’s not enough to pay lip service to listening. Implying that we are interested in people isn’t good enough. In fact, inattentive listening can often do much more harm than good, because it suggests that a virtual roundtables relationship is desired, but all the signs they are in receipt of are not that encouraging.
By paying full attention to whoever you are engaged with, you quickly show that you want the relationship to prosper. So much so indeed, that you are making the person your number one priority for the time you are in discussion.
This is very powerful, on any occasion you are able to manage it, because it shows them that you care for them and the relationship that you want to nurture and grow between you.
They see that you are interested, which boosts their self-esteem; you hear better what they have to say which is valuable and you understand better which is very powerful as you progress the interaction between you.
When you are attempting to pay full attention, there are a few tactics that you can learn and practice that will help you. They are easy, fun and can be learned by anyone who is prepared to try them out. The value of them is incredible!
Here are the most productive tactics for you as you engage with someone else:-
- Stop anything else you are doing
- Look at them and show you are paying full attention visually
- Avoid getting distracted at all
- Make sounds and use facial expressions to show you are listening
- Ask secondary questions about what you have heard
- Be quiet and leave the space for them
- When there are silences, don’t always feel that you have to fill them – give their thinking some breathing room
Where you will find the biggest challenges, will be that you and your thoughts are running wild before the interaction and you find it hard to switch them off.
Aligned to this are previous behaviors you have embedded in yourself that you will initially need to recognize (perhaps by asking others for their feedback) and then work on, to eradicate from the ‘who’ of who you are right now.
Don’t forget, that not paying attention shows a distinct lack of respect for them. Overcoming this in particular is very likely to open new doors in the way you interact with your people, which will encourage both of you to work together much more effectively.