Networking Skill: Listening – Body Language

Over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing some tips about the importance of listening.

I focused on the intention behind listening because that’s where it all starts (read the tips about listening with intention part 1 and part 2).

Now let’s talk about another aspect of listening: body language.

These are my tips for you:

Turn your body to the other person. This shows respect and interest in the other person. You “open the door” and invite him to talk freely.
Have an open posture. The most important is that you are aware that an open and relaxed posture invites people to talk and enables you to pay closer attention. In many courses you learn not to cross your legs or arms when listening to someone. This is a sign that you are not open to the other person. You can use this as a control mechanism: crossing your arms or legs could be a good signal for you to check whether you are still giving your full attention to the other person.
Make eye contact frequently. But don’t exaggerate. How would you feel if somebody is staring at you the whole time? Or the opposite: a person who doesn’t look you in the eye, doesn’t come across as a self-confident person. Or seems to hide something. In any case, this is not someone you eagerly want to include in your network. Don’t exclude yourself from other people’s networks.
Have a friendly, but rather neutral facial expression that radiates being open and unprejudiced.
Nod. This doesn’t mean that you nod to agree, but to show that you’re listening to what the other person is talking about.
Be calm. Don’t fidget, don’t play with things in your hands. Playing with a pen or tapping with your foot against the table is an annoying distraction.
Put the other person at ease. Allow her space and time and give “permission” to speak. Our posture, our expression it all makes a huge difference. Relax, and let her relax as well.

My golden tip:
Smile. If this seems to be too obvious for you, ask the people around you if they see you smile a lot. Most probably the answer will be “no”. You don’t have to be laughing loud all the time. A gentle smile will do.

Suggestion: look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Make some variations and see what you like best. Then do it everywhere. Smile consciously at people in the bus, at work, in the supermarket. And smile at all your networking contacts. If you think this assignment is too easy for you because you already do it a lot, you should be enjoying it even more!

To your success !

Jan

PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)

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