Back when I was a magazine editor a few years ago, I thought I was a good listener. I interviewed people. I asked them questions. I heard their answers. Then I asked more questions. So, I was a good listener? Erm, no…
It was only when I moved into consultancy, and then on to running my own business, that I realised that I hadn’t really been listening at all. A whole new world beyond the narrow confines of a journalistic interrogation opened up to me.
Listening is the most vital skill to have when building and communicating your business. It helps to boost your personal brand, improve relationships, and win business. But there are many misconceptions about listening.
Journalists like me believed they were good at listening, simply because they were journalists. “Success” would mean that everything was written down and reported accurately and there were no complaints about being misquoted or quotes being taken out of context. Only later, I realised that’d been listening selectively for the angle of the story I wanted before I came in the room.
Listening is genuinely paying attention to someone’s answer, showing empathy, and then relating in a way that adds value for them.
Professionally, if we create content for organisations, particularly in the area of thought leadership, you will understand that explaining concepts really well becomes a journey of listening to clients – and to their customers.
I’m still working at listening every day because I now know it’s key to the success I have had and hopefully will have in the future.