Monday, April 27, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER - How to be a Great Networker - Be a Great Listener

Following a conversation we had recently, I have invited a colleague of mine, Neil Urquhart, to write a guest blog on the qualities of great listeners.

Neil is a cross-cultural communication trainer and coach. He helps organisations and individuals to work more effectively with their international clients, teams and suppliers. We are currently working on a joint workshop together.

You can visit Neil's website at

How to be a Great Networker - Be a Great Listener

Over 2300 years ago, Aristotle wrote a treatise, ‘The Art of Rhetoric’, in which he outlined three principles that are as relevant to your relationship building and networking activities today as they were then.

The principles were Logos as in logic, Pathos as in emotional connection and Ethos as in trust.

Aristotle knew that it wasn’t enough to be logical when trying to connect with people, he recognised that we also need to be liked and/or trusted by them. In the same way we might justify buying a product or service based on logic (e.g. “It’s the cheapest one available”) we can rationalise networking with someone on logical grounds, too (e.g. “She’s the most appropriate person to speak to”). However, just as our underlying reason for purchasing something is almost always that we like and/or trust the person who is selling it to us, the real reason we choose to build long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships with some people and not others is that we like and/or trust them as well.

So how do we build this type of relationship? One clue to success can be found in the qualities of great listeners. Take a moment to write down the names of the three people you consider are the best listeners in your life; anyone you feel demonstrates the qualities of a first-class listener.




Now ask yourself the following questions:

Do you dislike or hate any of the people you have listed?
Do you distrust any of them?
Is there anybody on your list who you don’t either like/love or trust?

I’m sure that the answer to all of those questions is “No”. All things being equal, great listeners are people you know, like and/or trust.

Think of three qualities that these listeners in your life demonstrate and write them down, too.




Do you emulate these qualities? When was the last time you demonstrated the qualities you’ve written down? The next time you are building a relationship with someone or attending a networking event, interact with and exhibit these qualities and you’ll go a long way to achieving your aim.

1 comment:

  1. There's just something about a person who listens intently, doesn't interrupt, and comments appropriately. They make you feel wonderful! Isn't that one of our basic needs? To feel like we're being heard and understood?

    I think I do a good job of listening, but I'm fond enough of talking that I know I have to be very aware of paying attention and not interrupting.