Good Social Skills Begin With Great Listening Skills

Posted January 27, 2011 by

Yesterday I met my friend Pam for early morning coffee. I have known Pam for nearly 20 years and have always been impressed with her warmth, kindness, and intelligence. She is a senior officer at a federal bank regulator and she has always been well respected within her organization. Pam has had a really interesting career because about 10 years ago she quit her fantastic job to hike around the U.S. and then work in a bike shop for awhile. Because of the professional respect that she earned working as a bank regulator she had no trouble getting rehired and consistently promoted after taking a break for a few years. Not just anyone can quit a job to bum around for awhile and get hired back – you have to have earned some serious respect to be able to pull that off.

One thing that I think sets Pam apart from many others is her ability to really listen when someone is talking to her. She focuses on what is being said as well as the body language behind it. So, when you talk to Pam she gives the impression of being insightful to the point of being a mind-reader. It’s rare to talk to someone who listens that intently to what you say. Naturally, everyone likes her and seeks her out both socially and professionally when they need someone to talk to. She is a sounding board for the most senior officials in her organization and, given her ability to listen and offer intelligent, thoughtful feedback, it’s not surprising at all.
I think that in general everyone I have ever met who is known for having good social graces is also an excellent listener. Naturally, no one likes to talk to someone who isn’t paying attention. When someone makes the effort to really focus on what you are saying to them, they pay you the highest compliment – they are telling you that your stories are worth the time and effort it takes to fully synthesize them. Everyone wants others to listen when they talk; it’s human nature to want to be treated with respect.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the folks who get promoted within your organization take a closer look. I’ll bet you will find that many of them have good social and listening skills. Particularly if you work in a large hierarchical organization.
Are you a good listener? Are you able to push aside other thoughts, issues, and priorities when a friend or colleague is talking to you? I find that if I am multi-tasking while talking to someone I am not fully listening to what he/she is telling me. So, I try not to multi-task when I am having a conversation. This is difficult when I am at my desk reading email and I get a phone call. So I have really tried to discipline myself to turn away from the computer while I am talking on the phone so that I can give the caller the courtesy of my full attention.
If you want to be a sought-after friend and colleague, improve your listening skills because they are key to great social skills.
Article by Liz Handlin and courtesy of Ultimate Resumes

Originally posted by sarah ennenga

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