5 Common Mistakes People Make During a Conversation

Career Advice
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Dave Wilkin
July 11, 2019

Listening skills aren’t taught in business school, and yet they are essential to building a successful career. We learn how to communicate along the way, absorbing cultural norms on how we relate to one another such as proving you are right, showing you are not stupid and winning.

But… we don’t listen!

Listening involves paying attention to not only what is said, but the context in which it is said and being alert to non-verbal cues

Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of ‘Human Resource Essentials’

5 common mistakes people make when listening

1. Having an agenda

What’s your agenda? Are you trying to prove a point? Show the other person the error of their ways? Demonstrate how amazing you are? Or are you openly listening to the other person’s point of view? True listening requires letting go of your thoughts and agenda and being open to new perspectives.

2. Preparing your answer

Listening requires you to be fully present and immersed in what the other person is saying. Use the time when you are not speaking to truly listen rather than planning what you will say next.

3. Taking it personally

Feeling offended often leads to becoming defensive — the archenemy of listening. Whilst we cannot eradicate our feelings, we can become more aware of them and the constant emotional flux we are in whilst talking and listening. Awareness will help you to see past the criticism and regain clarity and perspective.

4. Making assumptions

Making assumptions is dangerous because we begin to believe that they are true. As a result, we quickly start building high walls to defend them. The truth is — we do not know if our assumptions are correct or not. If you do need to find out the truth, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If not, let it go! You could be right or wrong — it doesn’t matter.

5. Believing you look like a great listener, without actually being a great listener

Your ego will try to feed you anything it can during a conversation: They think you’re really smart! You’re really killing it! They think you’re stupid! You’re messing this up! The irony is, everyone is too busy thinking about themselves to be thinking about you. Learn to let all the background noise die down and focus on what you are meant to be doing: listening!

The best way to learn is by doing it! Meeting a colleague for coffee is a great opportunity to put these skills into practice. So, book a coffee for the new year, either virtual or in person, with a recent introduction today!

About Ten Thousand Coffees

Ten Thousand Coffees is an enterprise talent development platform that enables companies to scale and measure informal development. Every month, members receive data-driven introduction that are customized to their goals, interests and role. Feedback and success stories provide your organization with impactful business insights about the success of your people-strategies.  The Future of Work is transforming organizations: informal development between colleagues is where talent mobility and culture sticks.

Visit www.tenthousandcoffees.com to learn more about how Ten Thousand Coffees can help your team today.

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