The common trait that outstanding professionals share is that they are exceptional communicators. It’s especially important in our competitive and changing business world.
As we continue to stave off attention-draining messages, it’s important to remain steadfast in preserving our cognitive bandwidth. The human brain can’t absorb the images, graphics, e-mails, and other communications that are competing for our attention.
In a typical day, people are trying to get our e-mail addresses. They are trying to get us to sign-up for something. They are trying to get our hard-earned money. They are trying to get access to our personal information. They are often trying to get over on us. Get, get, get. This approach will only bring short-lived success.
The flip side of get, get, get is to give, give, give.
The most successful people in business are those who focus on what they can give to others, and not what they can get, get, get. High achievers are comfortable in deflecting attention away from themselves. These givers have absolute faith that by being tuned in to others, success will one day come to them. Individuals who live by this mindset aren’t in a hurry to get the deal. Instead, their priority is to build relationships and give value. The givers trust that they will be rewarded with abundance because that’s the way the universe works.
The proof of this is most evident in sales. When people in sales stop chasing money and shift their attention to genuinely helping a prospect, they won’t have to sell anything. Prospects will want to buy from them based on the generosity of the relationship.
You are in sales
Don’t be shocked, but marketing, PR, and communications pros are in sales. Think about it. We are selling messages to clients. We are selling ourselves to execs in the C-suite. We are pitching (selling) stories to the media. We are selling our time. We are selling our intellectual capital. We are selling our creativity. We are selling access to our media and social contacts.
To be a holistic business communicator, it’s time to stop selling and start building. Build your listening skills and relationships with prospects, the C-suite, colleagues, and reporters.
In this crazy busy world, our attention is a hot commodity. The concept of silent listening is the genesis of holistic business. Silent listening requires us to mentally slow down and quiet the unrelenting soundtrack that plays in our heads 24/7. Silent listening requires our undivided attention, free of distractions, judgments, and response planning. It calls for us to be fully present and in the moment.
How many times have you asked someone a question that you were genuinely interested in and as soon as they responded, your mind was jumping around aimlessly with random thoughts? “I forgot to send that e-mail to Joe.” “I have to pick up the dry cleaning.” “I should have ordered dinner earlier.”
These mental interruptions occur in a flash. They pull us away from conversations and leave us at a disadvantage as we miss important information that is essential to connecting with people.
For example, you are meeting with a prospect about doing PR for their credit union. Someone mentions that they have ‘service centers,’ not branches. If you write up a proposal to promote their 18 branches, you lose. A split second distraction becomes a costly lesson.
You may be like me: very goal-oriented. Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, I set goals. On August 12, 2009, I vowed to always be in the moment. In other words: Wherever my feet are, my head is. That is silent listening. Admittedly, it’s not an easy undertaking.
Since I made that commitment, I have often had to pull myself back into the moment when random thoughts try to intrude. Now, when I’m in a conversation, I have to be completely focused and attentive to what the speaker is saying. There are no distractions, there is no pull. Where ever my feet are, my head is.
Silent listening is an essential business skill. It shows people that you are fully engaged, and care about the message.
The best gift you can give someone is the gift of your attention.
PS: My new Kindle book, The Badass Book of Social Media and Business Communication, has been published! Take a peek!