January 31, 2023
Ready for part two? On the previous episode with Keith Mecurio, we started our dive into influential listening. Now, we’re going to round out the 5 ways you can become an influential listener. If you haven’t listened to or read the first episode, be sure and catch up first!
Before we get into the last two steps to becoming an influential listener, let’s define what listening actually is.
Listening is an active conversation we are having with ourselves about what someone else is saying.
Words don’t simply travel from someone’s mouth to your ears. Once you hear those words, you’re filtering them. You’re interpreting them. There is an internal conversation you’re having with yourself about how you feel about those words and what they mean to you. It’s important to understand that this part of listening is something to be mindful of. It also impacts your physiological response to what is being communicated. This is why being clear on your intent about the conversation is so important. It can help you stay focused on the conversation happening between you and the other person, and less so on the internal conversation happening inside your brain.
If you’re truly being authentic and genuinely want to be an empathetic, influential listener, you don’t want to go into a conversation having already made your mind up. That’s a closed position that doesn’t allow for true conversation to take place. An important tool and our 4th step in becoming an influential listener is called “the last three words”. It’s something that Keith learned from Jack Needham. It’s a profound concept, but incredibly simple. Keith’s first question when hearing about this was “well, how do you know when someone has said their last three words”? Jack told him “that’s the point”.
See, when you’re always listening for someone’s last three words, you aren’t thinking about getting your response in. You aren’t interrupting them with vocal or even silent interruptions. It forces you to focus on what they are saying and blocks out many of the internal and physiological barriers we naturally create to authentic conversation. In the world of psychology, this is what is known as a “pattern interrupt”. It’s a way of changing your normal behavior – in this case, thinking about what you’re going to say instead of what is being said to you. If you find yourself drifting, Keith suggests, use this as your mantra to anchor yourself and stay present in the moment on your path to becoming a more influential listener.
That brings us to our final step. Have you wondered why it’s called influential listening? It isn’t because you’re influencing someone else. No, the final piece to influential listening is to have the courage to risk being influenced by the speaker. Usually, we already have our minds made up. We aren’t willing to explore the possibility that we are wrong, don’t have all the information, or are going to change our minds.
Listening courageously means being willing to give influential power to the speaker, and to have the courage to let them change your mind.
One of the most valuable gifts you can receive as the speaker in a conversation is for the other person to tell you they changed their mind because of what you said. It’s true in the other direction, too, as the best gift you can give! It takes a lot of courage because our ego is attached to already knowing. If you’re truly going to value people – at work, home, and everywhere else – being an influential listener and willing to be proven wrong is incredibly important. It’s powerful. Want big things from people? Think highly of them and see them as big! How you view people is a big determining factor in how you listen to them.
There you have it. The five steps to becoming an influential listener. It might sound easy, but it most certainly is not. This demands a lot of courage, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of practice. It’s an active skill, meaning you can’t just try it out one day and hang up your hat. This is something you’ll need to do day in and day out, but if you do…there’s a lot of power to unlock behind this in your relationships with spouses, children, coworkers, and on and on.
Did you enjoy this two-part series? You can find a lot more of this kind of thing at Ethical Influence Global including tons of free resources, videos, and even Keith’s full-length keynote speech. You can also get in touch with Keith though his LinkedIn. Until next time, remember: NO ZERO DAYS.