“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.
Many companies consider listening skills so important that they offer training in it for their employees. One training firm has published The 10 Principles of Listening, and they’re worth listing.
- Stop Talking. It’s harder than it sounds. This means not interrupting or finishing someone else’s sentence.
- Prepare to listen by relaxing and focusing your mind on the speaker.
- Put the speaker at ease. Encourage them to speak with gestures or words that show interest.
- Remove distractions and interruptions so you can focus on what is being said.
- Empathize. Try to understand the other person’s point of view instead of thinking of your next response.
- Be Patient. Even a long pause does not necessarily mean that the speaker has finished.
- Avoid personal prejudice. Be impartial, even if their delivery style irritates you. Everyone is different, and few of us are public speakers.
- Listen to the volume and tone to understand what is important to the speaker.
- Listen for ideas – not just words to get the whole picture, rather than isolated bits and pieces.
- Watch for non-verbal communication such as gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements that give you additional information about the speaker and the ideas.
Listening and your job search
How does this apply to your job search?
In every human interaction, there are opportunities for understanding and misunderstanding. The value of understanding and the harm of misunderstanding are magnified in job search communications because of the high stakes and the limited number of conversations with people you don’t know very well.
In addition, a large part, perhaps 80% of your job search is about gathering information. By following the principles above, you:
- Create relationships.
- Learn of more opportunities.
- Understand more about a target company.
- Understand more about a target position.
- Understand more about your prospective colleagues and managers.
- Determine your fit within the company culture.
None of these will happen when you are giving your elevator pitch. All of them happen while you are being attentive, respectful, and silent.
If you recognize problems in your job search or interview performance in this post, contact me right away, and we can talk about what we can do together to solve them and help you move ahead.
Image courtesy Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net