The Art of Authentic Listening

by Julie Anne Jones

"Just be yourself!" Has anyone ever said that to you? I heard it all the time when I was a kid, followed by assurances from my mother that everyone would like me if I could (just be myself).

And you know what? She was right! What I'm told over and over again in my travels as a trainer and as I interact through social media is that people love my authenticity. I "show up" as who I am, whether I'm on stage or off. I'm honest about my faults as often as I am about my strengths. And I've found that people feel like they know me and can communicate with me because of it.

The other thing I consciously do which I believe assures people of my authenticity is so simple it's almost crazy. I ask questions and, more importantly, I listen. That's it.

One of the keys to authenticity is realizing that, sometimes (believe it or not), it's not about you. You see, as members of the human race, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we think it's all about us. Especially if you're enthusiastic about your company and its products and all it has done for you, sharing that from your perspective is natural. The problem is, the person you're talking to wants it to be about them!

As a network marketer or direct seller, your most important job is building relationships. You do that through conversation and the best way to build a strong, positive relationship with another person is through supportive communication—which means they feel important and heard.

Most people don't truly listen when they're in conversation. Oh, they may nod their heads and seem as though they're listening, but truthfully most conversations consist of both people waiting for their turn to talk (because deep down we believe that what we have to share is infinitely more interesting than what the other person is saying).

Of course, it's not polite to do all the talking, so in most conversations we pause now and then and let the other person talk. But most of the time, we're not really interested in what they have to say. If you switch to what I call heart-centered listening, you get very focused on what the other person is sharing (and frankly, forget about yourself).

So why not make the conversation about them? Shift your focus to curiosity and away from asking for anything. If you're curious, you're bound to ask questions, which will lead the person with whom you're talking to share.

And when you're curious, when you make it all about them, your authenticity shines through. It's impossible to be curious and listen to someone else if you're not also being authentic. And believe me, people can tell the difference between being truly listened to and talking to someone who's just marking time waiting for their turn to talk.

When you shift your thinking to this perspective and you learn to authentically listen, you'll find you magically begin to get everything you need. It's a truly incredible phenomenon. If you want to sharpen your listening skills and raise your authenticity, tune in to my upcoming Webinar, "Powerful Language to Explode Your Networking Business."


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