Many people find building and developing relationships a real challenge. That’s why some of the most clever and creative ‘ideas people’ and product developers rely on “people people” to translate their ideas into the world. But, like it or not, you, a large part of your effectiveness on a daily basis depends upon how well you interact with others.
The very lifeblood of human relationships is the ability to communicate. Many of life’s problems stem from poor communication skills. When you choose to improve the quality of your relationship skills, your life will change. A big step along this road is to learn to listen.
Top salespeople know this. They know that by first listening and engaging, they get the story and clarify the needs. They understand that people like to be heard and that by listening first, they’ll be heard when they pitch their solution.
But there’s more than just anecdotal evidence to support the power of listening. In the 1990s, an analysis was carried out on New York State’s doctors’ medical malpractice claims statistics. Patients who expressed concerns about unexpected results received two different responses from their doctors:
- An interruption within four seconds. These doctors were more likely to be sued.
- A caring attitude and being listened to for twenty or more seconds before a response. These doctors were much less likely to be sued.
The power of listening is sadly underestimated. When you listen, you’ll understand what you think and feel and, what others think and feel. And then, you’ll know what you need to do to solve communication issues. When you hear yourself and hear others you’ll engage, empathise and build relationships built on respect, acceptance and acknowledgement:
- People who influence know how to pay attention, to show respect;
- People who influence avoid or defuse problems;
- People not heard get angry;
- Learn to listen and you’ll become a great communicator;
- Don’t listen, you’ll be unheard.
Wanting to be accepted is a powerful emotional driver. That’s why people buy into business cultures, brands, politics and clubs. Many lifestyle choices are driven by a need to find acknowledgement and to appear respected. Although finding one’s place in any herd or crowd can provide comfort and confidence, the “approval” gained is conditional. Match the herd’s message you’re fine; deviate from it and you’re cast out and unheard.
Being heard as an individual is, I believe, a fundamental human requirement. But that won’t happen unless three priceless conditions are met:
- When you listen to yourself, you acknowledge you;
- When you hear another, you acknowledge them;
- When you acknowledge them, you’ll be acknowledged back.
A step further into listening is to uncover what your authentic needs or fundamental requirements are. With this clarity, you’ll know when something doesn’t fit you any more. With practise, fulfilling your authentic needs will liberate you from needing approval from others.
Whilst every person has different fundamental requirements to feel good in the world, research shows that when your requirements are being met you feel safe, secure, happy, warm, alive, vital, excited etc. Ensure your needs are met and your life will feel valuable and good.
So how do you find your needs? One way to do this is to pay attention to the times when you’ve felt alive, excited, secure, happy etc. and note down what you were thinking about at the time, what your emotions were telling you, what feelings you were responding to and what triggered you to feel that way. As your thinking determines your emotions, listening to your emotions will help you know what you’re thinking about. For example, if you feel scared, you’re having fear-filled thoughts. That being said, we often don’t really know what we’re thinking or feeling. That’s the time to listen to your body’s messages and let them tell you what’s happening.
Everyone carries emotions in their body. Ask yourself where does your body not feel right? Do you have any aches or pains, tension or tightness? Do you have any heaviness, hollowness, fullness or hurt? Does your neck ache? Do your shoulders carry too much? Is your tummy tight? Can you breathe easily? Does your heart race? Do you have high blood pressure? Is anything else bothering you?
Only you can know what your needs are. When you honestly listen to your intuition and to your heart, you’ll find all you need to be successful. And, you’ll quite literally fall over ideal advice in chance comments in conversations and what you “just happen to read.” And whilst help outside can provide support and encouragement, effective personal communication starts with knowing and valuing yourself.
Self-acceptance and understanding are essential to your effective communication with others and in driving success in your work and business activities. When you listen to yourself, find your needs and apply what you hear into your life, you will reap the benefits.
One concern this may raise: isn’t it selfish to put yourself (to approve of, accept, respect and acknowledge yourself) ahead of others? To choose to look after yourself first may clash with your upbringing. But, to make a difference, why not practise “charity begins at home?”
Listen to you. Know you. Communicate with you. Be the difference and your life, work and business will benefit and prosper!