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Networking is about Listening.

As The Job Dog, I spend most of my day coaching clients. Let me tell you something important that I have observed: most people do not know how to listen.

You may think you don’t need to read this section. You do. Very, very few people are skilled listeners. This information is critical to your networking, interviewing, and workplace skill set. Dogs listen; people don’t.

Effective listening skills pair the word active with listening. If you are passively listening, the speaker has no evidence that you are engaged. On the contrary, active listening demonstrates you are paying attention and care about what is being said.

Active Listening Checklist

If seated, do you get up? Do you greet the other person by name? Do you smile, shake hands, and somehow acknowledge his/her presence as you begin the conversation?

 YES

 NO

Do you avoid multi-tasking, turn away from your phone or computer, and look directly at the speaker?

 YES

 NO

As he or she speaks, do you offer confirming and supportive statements, such as, “I understand …” or “good point …” or “that is something I had not thought of …”?

 YES

 NO

Do you use active facial expressions, nod, smile, and maintain eye contact at least 30-60% of the time? (The amount depends on whether you are talking or listening.)?

 YES

 NO

Do you pay attention to your body language? Do you lean into the conversation to demonstrate you are engaged? Do you fold your hands in front of you to demonstrate attentiveness? Do you periodically use your hands to point at the person and say, “that’s really a good point”?

 YES

 NO

Do you quickly dismiss distractions or interruptions?

 YES

 NO

Do you avoid interrupting?

 YES

 NO

Do you periodically affirm or support the speaker’s statements by saying something similar to “I agree …” or “Good point, yes”?

 YES

 NO

Do you periodically ask a clarifying or follow-up question?

 YES

 NO

Do you summarize or paraphrase the speaker’s key points to confirm what you have heard?

 YES

 NO

Do you make a few quick notes? Not because you need to, but to demonstrate you value the speaker’s thoughts?

 YES

 NO

Do you ensure you have a thorough understanding before you begin formulating your own thoughts, or do you jump to conclusions?

 YES

 NO

 Checkpoint

Your ability to land that next job by getting new information may depend upon active listening. Begin practicing it today.

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