Active Listening

I believe just about everyone in the room knows that I’m a coach. I’m a rigorously trained Life Coach. But I typically don’t say that because these Education moments are not about me. They’re about all of us – and how we can become better networkers.

Well, today I’m going to bring you something right from the heart of coaching, because I believe it will have that desired impact.

The ICF, the International Coach Federation, which is the accrediting body over the field of coaching, has eleven core competencies by which it measures coaches like myself. There’s Setting the Foundation, Creating Awareness, Direct Communication, and so on. Competency number five is called Active Listening.

Now we networkers know that listening is key. And at our level, many of us have become quite good at it. We may even know that it’s just as important, if not more so, than the talking part. But what is “active” listening? Beyond just hearing the content of what’s being said – and that’s important also – there are some other things to pay attention to.

In the simplest terms, how is the person you’re speaking to being in the conversation? Are they controlling or over powering, filling the space? Are they hanging back and being tentative? Are they performing, or do they seem grounded and authentic? How is the conversation going for them? Do they seem to be enjoying it, getting value? Or do you sense that they’re biding time until their next conversation or appointment?

Networking is about relationships. This awareness will allow you to make adjustments that might foster more connection, and create greater impact.

And part of active listening also involves how you are being. Do you allow the space for silence and clear consideration? Or do you get uncomfortable and rush to fill it? Just like it’s been said that the magic in music can be found in the spaces between the notes, so can the connection between people be found in the silences between points of dialogue.

Notice not only what the person in front of you is saying, but how they’re saying it. Their choice of language, and it’s delivery.

This may seem like a lot to keep an eye – or ear – on. And it is. I’ve been doing this for a long time. But you can always start by choosing one thing. Like anything else, it gets easier with practice.

Here’s to more connection, better communication, and of course, better networking.

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