Ask, Then Listen Carefully

By JJ DiGeronimo, Cloud Strategy, Vision Practice Manager at VMware & CloudNOW Career Blogger

Anne Sweeney

Anne Sweeney, President of Disney/ABC Television was recently interviewed by Moira Forbes for an article in the September edition of Forbes Magazine. When asked how she has developed the ability to influence, Anne responds that “curiosity gets people excited” and leads to new ideas:

The smartest thing you can ever do is to constantly ask questions, especially when you’re uncertain or you’re trying something new. Find the people inside your team, the people who work for you, who work alongside you and the people above you. Ask the questions and listen very carefully to their advice. The second thing is to make sure that your communication on every single level is operating at its most effective; that when you speak, you speak with clarity.

Good advice – ask and listen and think before you speak to ensure your communication is clear, concise and understood. This is from one of the recently named Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the world.

Truly listening can be a challenge. As the other person speaks, we frequently are silently forming our rebuttal. However, when we take time to really listen we often discover new knowledge and foster better relationships; on and off the job.

Here are six ways to show someone you are really listening:

  • Make eye contact
  • Nod/ facial expression
  • Lean forward – your open, forward body language lets the other person know you are open to what they have to say
  • Ask deeper, clarifying questions “tell me more…”
  • Take notes – even if you have a photographic memory, taking notes shows the other person you value what they have to say
  • Paraphrase their comments “what I hear you say is…”

How do you show someone you are listening? What surprises have you encountered by asking people questions or asking for their opinion?

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