Many people find building and developing relationships a real challenge. Thatís why some of the most clever and creative Ďideas peopleí and product developers rely on ďpeople peopleĒ 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 lifeís 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, theyíll be heard when they pitch their solution.
But thereís more than just anecdotal evidence to support the power of listening. In the 1990s, an analysis was carried out on New York Stateís doctorsí 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, youíll understand what you think and feel and, what others think and feel. And then, youíll know what you need to do to solve communication issues. When you hear yourself and hear others youíll 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 youíll become a great communicator;
- Donít listen, youíll be unheard.
Wanting to be accepted is a powerful emotional driver. Thatís 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 oneís place in any herd or crowd can provide comfort and confidence, the ďapprovalĒ gained is conditional. Match the herdís message youíre fine; deviate from it and youíre cast out and unheard.
Being heard as an individual is, I believe, a fundamental human requirement. But that wonít 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, youíll be acknowledged back.
A step further into listening is to uncover what your authentic needs or fundamental requirements are. With this clarity, youíll know when something doesnít 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 youíve 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 youíre thinking about. For example, if you feel scared, youíre having fear-filled thoughts. That being said, we often donít really know what weíre thinking or feeling. Thatís the time to listen to your bodyís messages and let them tell you whatís 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, youíll find all you need to be successful. And, youíll quite literally fall over ideal advice in chance comments in conversations and what you ďjust happen to read.Ē 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: isnít 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 ďcharity begins at home?Ē
Listen to you. Know you. Communicate with you. Be the difference and your life, work and business will benefit and prosper!