Building your personal network – Listening

Part 5

Roxie on the dock

Building personal network through listening

In previous posts, we presented the idea of building your personal network through the human touch and building your personal network through sharing.  In both cases, a key skill to be developed and nurtured is listening. In Trusted Advisor, authors David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford write extensively on the art of listening. By listening, we earn the right to comment on, be involved with, and ask deep probing questions of our friend/client/associate.

The authors lay out three types of listening:

Reflective listening:

  • Demonstrates clarity and communicates back to the speaker that his message is heard and that the impact, implications, and emotions that are connected to the issue are well understood.
    • What I hear you saying is …
    • Tell me more about that.

Supportive listening:

  • Demonstrates empathy and shows that the listener not only understands why the client feels a particular way on an issue or problem but also that he will also help the client feel comfortable with that point of view.
    • Gee, that must be tough!
    • It’s understandable that you would feel that way because …

Listening for possibility

  • Demonstrates insight and suggests to the client that a particular path or solution may help resolve the dilemma.
    • So, what have you thought about doing to deal with that?
    • How would the ideal solution make you feel?

Remember the Theodore Roosevelt quote:  “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Reflective and supportive listening are essential to the guidance of President Roosevelt. With reflective listening, you can show care and concern by paraphrasing back to the friend/client/associate what you believe you hear them saying. They will help you fully understand their message–emotions and all.

Supportive listening can be accomplished by acknowledging and validating. For instance, “It’s understandable that you would feel that way because anybody in that position would have similar feelings.” Here, too, you’re showing care and concern.

Once the friend/client/associate has been allowed to voice his concerns, and you’ve demonstrated that you understand the situation and that you’re in a supportive frame of mind, it’s time to listen for possibility. Ask about the speaker’s plan for rectifying the situation. Let the speaker direct the course of his own plan, but offer your network if it might help solve the problem.

Remember, networking works best if you adopt a selfless approach. Use your personal network to assist others, and they will offer you their network freely and willingly to you when you need it.