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Knobull Provides Guidance That Builds High-Quality Career Building Connections
Many successful relationship builders have proved that niche content works when they generate communications about advanced topics that would appeal to only a certain audience that were familiar with mutual areas of interest. Listening skills are critical component to strengthen these connections and continue the building process.
It's surprising how rarely we ask open-ended questions. In both personal and professional settings, we ask close-ended questions like "how was your weekend?" or "do you think this is a good idea?"
These close-ended questions elicit surface level responses such as "it was good" or "yes." Start by shifting your language, asking open-ended questions such as "what recent event stands out the most" or "what's going on in your industry."
Bigger, open-ended questions can often require more thought, and it's important to give the person you're conversing with adequate time to think and respond. Shy away from asking questions like "Tell me about challenges you're seeing." The key is to shift the focus so the other person does over 60% of the communicating.
Anyone who has thought about effective listening skills has likely heard of paraphrasing. By summarizing and expressing in our own words the meaning we received from what someone else said we can show that the other person's thoughts were understood.
The key is to begin the paraphrase with a comment like "It sounds like you're saying" and end it with "did I get that right?" Giving the speaker a chance to clarify or confirm their thoughts can help avoid misunderstandings and build a shared foundation of trust upon which to continue the conversation.
Even people who've spent their entire careers focusing on meaningful, connected conversations will inevitably trigger an emotional outburst in a conversation. Instead of matching emotion, calmly ask "what did you hear me say?"
Bentley concluded. "With so many people now working permanently or partially remote, effective listening has become even more important. Without the full body cues of in-person meetings, one should lean even more strongly into asking the right questions, and listening for misunderstandings or trigger points. Deep listening builds trust, and teams who trust their leaders and each other are much more likely to be successful."