To achieve excellence, you need other people. Not only are the majority of our pursuits in life at least partially team efforts, but to access your own individual potential requires the opportunity to bounce off others. Be it an opinion, an idea or a technique, there are few tasks our professional minds are set to that can’t be improved upon and evolved through active dialogue with others. But many of us put a limit on this potential by plunging into conversations with guns blazing, eager to share our ideas or convince the other person of our aims, but we’re unable to hear the notions or perspective of somebody who could push our achievements to the next level.
Related: How to Speak Well… and Listen Better
The important distinction to make here is that good listening is an active proposition. Good listening is not a case of waiting for the other person to finish before trying to convince them of your side of the story. Rather, by taking time to listen, digest and question the notions they put across, you can broaden your understanding of the situation and attempt to find a way to solve the problem or progress with the project in a mutually beneficial way.
There is a tendency among ambitious people to get caught up in the job they have at hand, following their tunnel vision toward inevitable success. Often, the reason you might not take the time to truly listen to somebody is that you are too busy: You give them half your attention while the rest of your mind is on your smart phone or in the clouds. But dividing your attention in this way compromises both pursuits. It is better, if you don’t have time to give 100 percent, to be honest and postpone a conversation for later.
Listening is one tool in the entrepreneur’s toolbox that is rarely addressed in training or networking events. It is something an entrepreneur needs to develop for themselves. To get a few pointers on where to start, check out this handy infographic, and prepare to see your interactions take on a whole new creative life.