Listen Up: How to be Brilliant, Gorgeous, Talented, Fabulous

Last week, I nearly made a faux pas of huge consequence.  Whilst in a meeting with a big client and two colleagues, an idea popped in my head and I took off running—at the mouth.  And, I might add, totally in the wrong direction from where the client wanted to go.  Luckily, the client who is also a friend, called to check out what I was thinking and to see if we could turn the conversation back to what she really needed. Oops.

I wasn’t listening. I was too busy thinking ahead, planning what to say and getting turned on by my own brilliance.  Indeed, studies show that most people only half listen focusing instead on what they will say next rather than hearing the message the person is trying to get across.  For the person trying to be understood, all this talk and no listen can be terribly frustrating.

The real secret to being brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous is to listen up. Really listen when other people are speaking and suspend your own inner chatter hear and understand what they are trying to say. Here’s how:

* Put down the electronic device and look at and concentrate on the person speaking.  Make eye contact and take in what they are saying. Really focus on the person in front of you.
* Suspend any assumptions or preconceived notions that you might have and aim to understand their point of view
* Ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand
* Paraphrase to make sure you get it right
* Be curious! The person in front of you has something to share and has sought you out to do just that. Likely, your opinion, guidance, expertise has brought them to you in the first place. Similarly, there might well be something in there for you too like an idea, solution or new knowledge.
* Take time to make time - over the long term, listening will save you time as misunderstandings are avoided and communication is clear.

Listening is a little like a exercising a muscle, it becomes easier with practice. Like a fit muscle, listening makes one more attractive.  So much so that people will start describing you as brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous without having to hardly open your mouth!  So be warned! Side effects of listening can include: a more motivated team, a promotion or new job, and more harmonious relationships.