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Listen up or Lose out: Advancing Your Listening Skills

When we think of holding engaging, powerful conversations, the first thing that comes to mind is mastering the art of persuasive speaking. While there is magic in persuasion, one of the most powerful tools of a leader is the ability to listen.

You are tossing the idea around in your mind, right? Surely, the way to control a discussion, direct the flow of ideas, and get someone to jump on your bandwagon is to use your words to convince and even manipulate. Yet, think about how much more likely you are to hear someone out and consider their point of view when you feel like they’ve been paying attention to you. You’re more willing to do something they’ve requested or give them what they’re asking for if you feel like that person has taken the time to listen to you and has shown a deep interest in what you think or feel. Beyond that realization, consider that the only way to know how to build an argument to budge others from their stance is to listen to them and figure out from which angle to approach their way of thinking. There within lies the compelling strength of a master conversationalist. If you are striving to become a great leader and influential figure, it’s worth it to acquire the following listening skills:

1. Don’t cut others off while they are talking. It’s disrespectful and it makes them feel like their ideas are being devalued. Be patient and let them finish their thought.

2. Actually pay attention. Avoid getting so caught up in coming up with a rebuttal or good come back line that you completely miss what the other person is expressing.

3. Use the various nonverbal gestures that let a person know you are present and connected. Try these nonverbal cues:

  • Lean forward, without slouching.
  • Make eye contact, instead of letting your eyes wander, but don’t stare.
  • Nod your head, not like you’re falling asleep, but like you get what they’re saying.
  • Smile/Laugh if they say something cheerful or funny.
  • Put away any distracting devices, i.e. cell phones, mp3 players, etc.

4. Ask questions related to what the other person is talking about. That is a surefire way to let someone know you were not only paying attention, but that you’re interested.

Before I run off to another meeting, I’ll share with you one of my personal secret weapons: the head nod and furrowed brow combo. When my eyebrows move closer together and I nod my head as in “yes, I get what you’re saying,” without fail, the person who is speaking stops talking to everyone else in the room and directs his/her words towards me. If you need a big dog, power player to notice you, if even for a moment, then give that one-two punch a try.


Little Lady Tips – 6/20/12


The Unfortunate Fashion of Love


Love. Oh Love, how could you be so blind? 

When we’re head over heels for someone we make some of our most questionable decisions. It looks like our fashion choices may suffer right along with the rest of them, like this guy’s cute red crossbody chain purse. We know (hope) it’s his girlfriend’s, but come on, it matches his shirt perfectly and everything.

I suppose we’ve probably all been there at some point in our young, foolish lives, but hopefully nobody has a picture of it!

Managing Your Cell Phone Addiction: Class Now in Session

Earlier this week, I sat in on a media presentation.  The presenter wasn’t the most engaging and apparently he was filling in for someone else at last minute notice.  You could see he was nervous and just wanted to get through the PowerPoint as soon as possible.  He stopped in the middle of his presentation and, in a tone riddled with annoyance, said to someone in the audience “Should I wait until you’re finished texting to continue?”  Now the truth is, many people were using their smartphones throughout the session.  So why did he call out this one person?  He spotlighted her because she was in his direct line of sight.  She was sitting right in front of him and didn’t think anything of whipping out her phone and chatting it up!

I began to think of my classes and how at the beginning of the semester some students think it is alright to text while I’m teaching or answer a call in class.  Contrary to their beliefs, there is a standard of cell phone etiquette that you should put into action when you are listening to a lecturer or presenter of any sort.  Practicing this short list of standards will help you to convey that you respect the person and the work they put into sharing information with you:

  1. Turn off that cell phone ringer!  Vibrate is an option if the phone won’t be resting against anything that makes the vibration louder.
  2. Put your cell phone away (out of site).  Hiding your phone behind your bag or in your lap while you type away is not the same as putting it away.
  3. If you must keep your phone visible, then turn it face down so that the LED light notifications do not distract you or the presenter.
  4. If you anticipate receiving a call or responding to a series of text messages, then take the conversation outside until you are done and ready to return.
  5. When using the phone as a tool in the session, let your presenter know ahead of time that you will be using it for that reason.  For instance, if you will need to calculate data that will be discussed, then you should explain that you will keep your phone out in order to utilize the calculator.

As with everything else, there are exceptions to the rule.  In today’s world, with everyone being wired (or WiFi-ed), a presenter might ask the audience to keep their phones available to access the Internet in order to surf the web, visit a specific website, tweet about the lecture, or any of the other awesome things you can do on a smartphone now.  I take the liberty of incorporating that kind of technology usage into my lectures all the time and so do many others.  In those cases, by all means comply with the request.  Just keep in mind that the main purpose of you working on your cell phone is still to participate in the activity led by your presenter and not to text your BFF for an hour.