One of the most under valued skills during the interview process is the ability to LISTEN! This applies whether you are the job seeker or the interviewer for that matter. What is that? Yeah, I said it, “Listen Up!” Talking, multi-tasking, distractions, or moving too fast forces you to derail quicker than any express train traveling through downtown. The more you listen the more you learn. When you listen you do so for non-verbal queues as well. While some of you are natural listeners, other folks may need to be interrupted, or physically gagged in order to get a word in. Which one are you?
Not knowing when to shut up during an interview or meeting can be the kiss of death if you are thinking you will land a job offer or move up in your current job. Only focusing on yourself or vomiting anything that’s on your mind regardless of who else might be talking is not going to help your chances for success under any circumstances. Maybe you think you can listen better when you are juggling tasks like texting, or checking email or voicemail when someone is speaking to you. If you think that you are a stud and can handle it all, think again. Not only is it rude but also you are also not fully engaged in your listening skills no matter how much of the conversation you claim you can recall from memory.
When you’ve made it a habit of bringing every conversation, point or issue to being about you, you are not listening. Finding a way to stop your busy brain from thinking that every comment from someone else is a directed at you personally is not what listening to the other person is all about. Of course if someone is yelling expletives then it might be about you, but opening yourself up by listening to someone else’s point of view before jumping to any conclusions will help you remain neutral and non-emotional in your verbal exchange.
Interrupting while someone else is asking you a question because you think you already know the answer before the question is fully formed is another example of shutting up and listening before jumping in. You may or may not know what is on the other person’s mind but letting them finish their sentence helps you stop, think and respond in a respectful and responsive way. If you are on an interview or in a staff meeting, responding with your ears and not your mouth makes you seem more in control and less anxious.
If you find that you have a hard time stopping from rambling on when speaking with someone, take a breath so the other person can get a word in. Don’t worry you won’t be seen as slow or dumb-witted. Slowing down enough to allow someone to respond before you take another 15 minutes to finish your point helps you listen for non-verbal queues and makes for less interruptions and a more engaging conversation.
Always remember to ask questions as a way to let the other person know that you are truly listening and yes, really engaged. By asking a question, the interviewer, your boss or anyone else knows you are truly listening to the conversation and are interested in the outcome of the discussion.
A key to nailing a good interview and being a respectful participant is to listen while you work.
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