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Listening is important for your startup

Entrepreneurs need to work on their communication skills in order to improve their business relations, team management and the performance of their startup in the entrepreneurial scene. Strong communication skills are essential part of the skill set of every entrepreneur, because they can help you win funding, to gain the interest of many investors and to attract powerful business partners.

So here we will talk about the number one communication skill that entrepreneurs should master – the art of listening. This is what verbal communication is: it is a process of speaking and listening. We are always careful of what we say, but why don’t we pay that much attention on what we hear? Effective communication doesn’t come with switching between the speakers and waiting for our turns to come. We must listen and comprehend what has been said, in order to maintain beneficial communication.

Listen what others say and you will learn a lot of things which will ameliorate your startup venture. People say things that are important for your future business decisions and as a startup owner you must rely strongly on the importance of the choices you make. Listen what the investors are saying, listen what your team members are saying, listen what the potential employees are saying during the job interview, listen to your customers, listen to your mentor. Listen.

Listen with your eyes. Body language says a lot, often more than the spoken words. Listen what your interlocutors say with their posture, gesture, intonation. The strongest messages are sent with the help of the body language. Use this advantage and be prepared to understand better by analyzing the hidden message of the body language. Maintain eye contact and remember that not only your interlocutor’s body language matters, your body language matters too. Help your interlocutor to feel more confident and the whole conversation will be improved.

No distractions. Avoid doing many things at the same time, because you are able to fully and effectively concentrate on one thing at a time. Do not look at your phone, don’t send messages or reply e-mails. It is not only disrespectful, but also will distract you from the conversation, which can prolong it and lead to a lot of wasted time.

focus

Don’t interrupt the speaker, but avoid being the passive listener who just nods and has nothing to say. This is why we talk about conversation, not a monolog. Be part of the conversation by answering or asking questions, be involved with sharing opinions, providing solutions and ensure positive outcomes from this conversation.

Work on your focus. It is difficult to concentrate on what somebody is saying when you have so many other things that require your attention. This is why you need to focus, to concentrate on the conversation, to learn everything that you needed from it. By maintaining strong focus you are more likely to provide easily specific answer, to state your opinion or to take the expected action.

The place matters. To improve your listening skills you need to have the right atmosphere of the place where the conversation is held. Avoid having important conversations at noisy places. The crowded meetings are more likely to take more time than necessarily. Organize the meetings with less people than possible so you can improve the quality of the meeting and, of course, give yourself the ability to listen better to what is said.

Get straight to the point. You are an entrepreneur, your time is valuable and you must spend it carefully. Avoid listening to long speeches which carry unimportant messages. Your employees often tend to speak more than enough and to express themselves with unnecessarily amount of technical terms. The terms are more likely to confuse than to inform. Define the style of the meetings and let the people who attend know that they must say enough: not less, not more.

You are a leader and good leaders listen and understand. They must motivate the people around them and, in order to achieve that, they need to understand them better, to know superiorly their problems and concerns. You are able to feel the energy of your team, to recognize their expectations and to work towards improving your performance as a leader by listening them more carefully. Listening proves that you care. You are concerned about your team, your partners, your investors’ opinions and you are ready to listen to them and meet their expectations.

─ November 24, 2014