Five SURE FIRE ways to UP your LISTENING Game

 In Entrepreneur, Environment, Facial expression, Learning from Luminaries, Listening, News, Politicians, The Winning Voice, What not to do

“You can’t have an agenda,” Joel Peterson, the chairman of JetBlue Airways and founder of Peterson Partners, an investment firm, told me. “When you have your own agenda when you’re listening to someone, what you’re doing is you’re formulating your response rather than processing what the other person is saying.

You have to really be at home with yourself. If you have these driving needs to show off or be heard or whatever, then that kind of overwhelms the process. If you’re really grounded and at home with yourself, then you can actually get in the other person’s world, and I think that builds trust.” 

The above excerpt is from an excellent New York Times article by Adam Bryant, entitled ‘How to be a better listener’.

The comment of ‘You can’t have an agenda’ reminds me of a saying I share with my clients.

‘Listening is not just waiting for your turn to talk’

In my view, classically excellent listeners don’t decide for certain what they’ll say until the other person has stopped speaking.

Here’s another vignette from the article:

“At one point, I said to her: ‘You never take me to the creative meetings. Why not?’ She said: ‘Because you sit with your arms folded across your chest and it’s not good for creative meetings. You have to learn ‘the nod.’ I said, ‘What’s the nod?’”

“…the nod is when you lean in and you nod your head and you keep nodding your head when someone is pitching an idea. That way, they get more and more excited about the pitch and they give you their best work…The lesson: Use body language to add energy to the conversation. Even if you are listening intently, you have to show people you are listening to them.”

There are many gems in the article from LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, Bill Marriott and former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.

Own the Conversation

Here’s a ‘to do’ suggestion for the next seven days.

When a colleague, a friend, supplier etc is pitching you an idea; or sharing a story or talking about what they did the prior night etc. keep nodding while they’re speaking.

After the interaction, reflect on the excitement they demonstrated – compared to their ‘usual excitement’ – and consider if their excitement in the ‘nodding interaction’ was greater than usual. If yes, notch-up your nodding when listening.


p.s. This post on ‘Power and preparation steps before you ask for a raise’ might interest. Here are two lines from the post to pique your interest. ‘Power is never given. Power is taken.’


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