It is summer! Many of us are thinking about taking the foot off the gas a bit and enjoying the season. But there are almost as many people who find that June, July and August are a good time to ramp up and discover strategies and skills that will result in a significantly improved professional and interpersonal experience.
I know lots of people who are eager to get ahead and have a lot of terrific information, ideas, and suggestions to share. Maybe you have a lot of interesting ideas you are excited to contribute.
Interestingly - that is not what impresses most people today.
The skill most valued and also the rarest is the ability to make someone feel that they are the most important person in the room. Listening to others, giving them your full attention, and finding them of interest NOT because they can do something for you, but because they are interesting to you, is both a rare and an incredibly valuable skill.
So EasyIf it is so easy, why is it so rare? Because it is extremely difficult to develop this skill and employ it on a consistent and daily basis.
People today get distracted frequently and easily. We put the blame on the constant seduction of technology as it lures us from whatever may be the current focus. People do not apply the mental discipline to focus on others in a routine and automatic way. Instead, we seem to now cultivate habits that encourage us to always be on the lookout for happy distractions (Oh look – an email! Oh my – I just remembered something I should do! Oh wait- that looks interesting and I should take a quick look!)
Fortunately, if you are motivated, you can develop the ability to make others feel like they have your complete and undivided attention. To develop the most prized and elusive skills:
- Listen. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
- Don’t interrupt. This is all about you paying attention to them and not you talking to them.
- Don’t finish sentences for others. Let them talk
- Don’t tell them that you know what they mean. Try to keep your mouth closed!
- Don’t disagree. Avoid using the words “but,” and “no.”
- Stay focused. Don’t let your attention wander. Don’t look up or around to see who else has entered the room. Keep any and all screens (Phone, pads, computers, and TV) away so you are not tempted to glance at them.
- Keep up your end of the conversation. Ask good questions. Show that you are paying attention by asking for more detail or clarification. Comment about what you have just heard.
- Don’t try to impress them. This interaction is not about how smart or funny you are. It’s about them.
Amazingly, the more other people get to shine, the better you look! You probably have already done this: on a first date, in a job interview, or with the boss. Doing this consistently is something most people don’t do. If you can behave this way more of the time and make others feel special, you will rise above the crowd.
When you can make others feel valued and important, it is you who become the person who is exceptional.
Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 25 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at http://jonidaniels.com