As we mentioned last week, whether we care to admit it or not, we all have influence on those closest to us. Our influence may have a positive or negative impact, or it simply maybe dismissed through apathy or pre-judgment by the receiver.
Part # 1 on this message was a reminder that the pathway to positive influence begins when our intent is aligned with a desire to help, to serve, and to give to others. We can effectively open the door to be a positive influence on others when we realize our efforts are not about “me” and my own personal gain.
In part #2 of this message, we focus on the importance of listening instead of talking as the next step in having a positive influence on others. Listening goes against the popular opinion that we need to be up front and on stage with our intelligence and experience in order to have influence.
The reality is much different than the popular public perception of influence. We need to initially focus on listening instead of talking to most effectively move forward in having a positive influence on others.
Below are a few additional thoughts to encourage all of us to be more effective on listening as a second step along the pathway to having a positive influence on others:
- No effective response needed. Many of us hinder our ability to effectively listen because we have been conditioned that in order to have a positive impact on others we need to know what to say in conversation with others. Even though it may sound counterintuitive, we need all our energy focused on listening with the hope to understand instead of listening with a desire to respond with something “brilliant.” If we don’t initially focus on listening, our “brilliant” response will most often fall on deaf ears.
- Ask additional questions in follow-up. Using some thoughtful questions followed by silence will help to encourage others to keep sharing. Asking a follow-up question and simply shutting up is often difficult for us but allowing silence to hang after a question will open the door for others to fill the gap and continue to share. Even something as simple as, “Please tell me a little more about that experience” can keep the discussion going.
- Focus on him/her, not everything else in “my” world. In today’s massively distracted world, keeping smart phones, laptops, etc. out of site will help send a message that the focus is on them and not anything else. We send a huge billboard sized message that says, “You are not that important to me” when we show up to listen and we are constantly “stepping out” of conversation with the casual glance at notifications on our phones. Our ability to positively influence others will be severely limited when we allow simple distractions to creep into our attempt to listen to others.
- We don’t need to be brilliant to listen, we just need to care. Listening, not talking, is the most simple and powerful way to demonstrate to someone that they matter and to meet a human desire to be accepted for who we are today. Listening is the gateway for truth in a conversation and can encourage others, at least for a moment, to take off our mask and end the “costume party” we all typically live in.
When we start with our intent to help and then begin to listen to others, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to have a positive influence on those we care about most.