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Best Career Advice: Be a Good Listener

Craig Black, Freelance Copywriter

“The best career advice I’ve ever received is very simple:

Be a good listener.

Every day, every conversation, every interaction is an opportunity to practice being a good listener. The closer I pay attention to not only what people are saying, but also how they’re saying it, the better I’ll understand what they expect from me.”

Craig captured one of my favorite themes, so I can’t resist adding a couple quick thoughts.

As a writer, Craig’s job requires him to break down concepts, paraphrase and articulate them in a way that people will want to read.

How would you listen differently if you were required to do the same? In order to paraphrase and play back in your own words, you need to understand (not just hear) what is being said to you.

Another part of good listening is asking thoughtful questions. My success as a recruiter and interviewer is predicated on this, and blogging has helped me develop it further.

For example, when recruiting for a particular position, I need to think about the critical job skills and how to effectively screen for them. My prep work is coming up with a list of questions to evaluate whether a person is qualified, AND provide them with a platform for talking about their achievements. Later, I weave these achievements into a narrative that becomes my pitch to the employer.

It’s the same thing when I interview people for the blog. It’s crucial to start with the final story in mind. Once the topics are defined, I can work backwards to form the questions that will get me there. Then I need to actively listen to make sure the person is actually responding to my questions. Often, it’s easy to get off track on a likeable tangent or shared experience. This is great (and necessary) for building rapport, but not so helpful when I go back to write the story and realize I haven’t collected anything useful.

It’s a less spontaneous way to have conversations, but way more productive!

We could all have more productive interviews, meetings and conversations if we commit to being good listeners, which means:

1.    Start with the end goal in mind

2.    Prepare questions that will enable you to get there (picture these as buoys to help you stay on course)

3.    Listen to ensure your questions are answered fully

4.    Be able to play back what you heard in a compelling narrative with support points

Visit Craig’s web site.

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