Don’t just listen. Understand.

Last week we were lucky enough to bring together some of our key clients to discuss our shared challenge of building valuable relationships with clients.

Listening is core to building a relationship with clients so it was brilliant to have help from Dan Connors, influence consultant at and co-founder of Applied Influence Group as one of our speakers. After 22 years in specialist intelligence roles in the British military Dan understands people and influence better than anyone I know and his insights were the perfect way to start our discussion.

Here’s a summary of my takeaways from Dan’s presentation.

1. How to gain an understanding of those you are trying to build a relationship with. 

Not just listening, but understanding takes a deliberacy that most people fall short of. Actively listening for the express purpose of empathising with those you are trying to connect with requires focus and practice to be effective. If you can take a genuine interest in those you are trying to build rapport with your job becomes much easier.

2. Don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions.  Build a full picture.

Assuming that someone believes or feels a certain way because of their background, their colleagues or their past is a great way to make mistakes. Particularly when our own biases are informing these assumptions we tend to get things wrong. Where possible, take a step back and ask yourself what you actually know about someone, where you got your data points from and what you are just assuming.  Build a complete picture.  

3. Information is everywhere. Use it.

Not knowing the people you are dealing with is a bit of a sin in 2019. With social networks, blogs and content everywhere, there is really no excuse for not doing some research into the people that matter. Perhaps they have a shared interest you can discover on Twitter, a strong opinion on a professional subject that they’ve written or spoken about. Perhaps they are simply connected to someone else you know on LinkedIn. Each source of information carries its own biases and values but form an important part of understanding someone. Every conversation with them is an opportunity to learn something. One of Dan’s recommendations is to never have a wasted conversation.

Perhaps most importantly is the intent behind listening and understanding. The point is you shouldn’t be using this information for unethical purposes, you should be using it to build the best authentic relationship with this person that you can, so that they and you can benefit from it. 

If you are interested in finding out more check out Applied Influence Group blog here or contact Dan and ask about their DNA of Influence model:

Creating Exceptional Value through Elite Influence The advancement of technology is removing competitive advantage from business. In an increasingly digital world, where the strength of our relationships defines our success, human influencing skills are more powerful than ever.