By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite sections from the book The Power of Charm by Brian Tracy and Ron Arden.  Brian Tracy is one of America’s leading authorities on the enhancement of personal effectiveness, the development of human potential, and the art of salesmanship.  Ron Arden is widely known as one of the leading image and presentation consultants and coaches in North America.   These two definitely know a thing or two about putting your best foot forward and enhancing your personal skills.

The “Magic of Listening” (chapter 5 in The Power of Charm)explains one of the most important qualities a good leader should have; the ability to ask questions and listen closely to what people have to say.  Having empathy for someone your speaking with will speed you on the way to having “social intelligence,” the most respected form of intelligence in our society.  Here are some simple steps to start you on the social intelligence path by first becoming a good listener:

  1. Listen attentively. Listen as if nothing in the world is more important to you at that moment than what the other person is saying.  Remove all distractions and give that person your complete attention.  This behavior will be instantly recognized and appreciated, and will give you tremendous emotional power in the conversation.
  2. Pause before replying.  Pause for three to five seconds, allowing a silence to exist before responding.  This simple pause will cause three things to happen: 1) You avoid interrupting the other person if he is just pausing to reorganize his thoughts before continuing. 2) You show that person that what he said was important and that you are considering it carefully which reinforces the personal value of the speaker and causes him to see you as a more attractive and intelligent person. 3) You can actually hear the person; not only what he said, but what he meant.
  3. Question for clarification.  Never assume you know exactly what the person meant by what he said.  Help him to expand on his most recent remark by asking questions.  One of the most important rules of communication, after all, is that “the person who asks the questions has control.”  When a person is speaking in answer to a question, he cannot think of anything else because 100% of his focus and attention is on what he is saying.
  4. Feed it back; paraphrase it in your own words.  This proves that you were really paying attention.  When a person finishes speaking, you pause and say something like, “So, you just did this, and then this happened, and then you decided to do that, right?” Once the speaker confirms that’s what he said and meant, you continue, either with another question or by commenting on what has just been said.

I challenge you to keep these four steps in mind the next time you’re having a conversation and see what happens.