Give Yourself An Edge, Start Listening

It's Monday, rejoice! Usually I would go all in on embracing the moment and making this day count, but the weekend left another impression on me. Visiting friends and family showed me (again) the value of listening and not always take action.

Think about your best friends, family members or in general people that you love but don't see everyday. Modern life took a lot of people elsewhere and somehow you get stuck with Social Media and voice memos.

You have the ilusion of a great chat but did you really grasp every nuance of the conversation? Even by using video chat there is a lot of energy missing of a "same room" experience. I know, it gets abstract very fast and that has a lot to do with EQ, emotional intelligence.

You might know the feeling that when you enter a room and you get a sense of it or you really know when your best friend is sad although she might not be showing it. That is your EQ telling you something is wrong with how things seem to be and how you percieve them. This is important, because it gives you context and can serve as a conversation starter.

That is the reason why I want to share some examples on how listening can benefit your daily life on this Monday.

The upper hand in negotiations

Winning a negotiation is all about preperation and knowing the other side. Although my own philosophy in negotiation is to bake a bigger pie for everyone (Principled Negotiation) instead of a win-lose situation, the goal is usually winning at all costs in a business context. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the role of a benevolent negotiator is still kind of a taboo. 

Listening can help you tremendously in negotitations. Listen and find out what is important to the other side, what do they care for, what do they want? Normally people don't say that in a straight way during negotiations, but you can listen for clues, why do they want to change this and not that, what is their problem with this, this is objectively fair, why are they so adamant about so and so? 

Even facial expressions can tell you if people are relaxed, tense or lying. How does their voice behave, where are they looking? It's as much listening as oberserving the other one. You can really benefit in this situation from a high EQ. I did study negotiation tactics in my Bachelor Thesis, so the arsenal is immense in what you can look up in the literature. Namely anything from William Ury is my recommendation. Here is a TED Talk by him as a gateway: 

Did you ever get the feeling that all the best arguments come after having an argument? If yes, you know that you weren't listening to yourself at the time and you were simply reacting towards the other person instead of listening.

More meaningful relationships

We love when people care about us and really know us. You can see this phenomenon for example at Christmas, when your gift hits spot on.

We can experience the same in the workplace and in our business. Don't you love it when people remember your birthday even without being friends with you on Facebook? A little present from your manager, just because? Tickets to your favorite band? The same can be applied to your customers. It builds brand, strenghtens the realtionship and also feels good on both ends.

Life is so much easier when you have all these little interactions and reference points to create a meaningful relationship.Technology is there for you to help scale the process.

Simply listen, you do not need a CRM for this, people are on Social Media telling you more than enough about themselves. Where they work, what they like, where they have been etc. pp.  

A deeper understanding of your own motivations

It's not only important to listen to others but to listen to yourself. That is what meditation and mindful practices are for. I often take mental notes before and after a discussion just to see what is different afterwards and if I really fought for my believes or if I fought for something else. 

Reflection is a key element of getting to know yourself. Don't you hate it when people accuse you of being in a certain way? We usually respond with aggression rather than calm and honesty. Maybe they were right and you acted selfish? 

Give yourself a chance to breath and think about this for a moment and then respond. 

How to practise listening?

It has always been easy for me to listen, I've been an introvert for the majority of my life. Developing my extroverted self, I see myself doing more active asking for feedback or recording myself to later analyse it. 

A major benefit is to take some time for yourself for thinking. I like taking long walks for example. I feel that the mind works better when the body is moving. You may experience it for yourself: are you someone who likes to stand up, or walk, while on the phone?

Writing is another great method, it helps you sorting out your thoughts and focus on the important parts, especially on paper. Nothing beats writing on paper, it is a slow process and you have to concentrate to make it readable (at least in my case). That alone helps to reflect on one's thoughts...

Anyway, there is also so much we can do and talk about. Try using the tools you have and give the people around you some joy today.

Thanks for reading.

Sebastian