Get Real: Listening skills and being yourself
Some soloists like to adopt different identities at work and at home. But if you avoid being yourself or leave a big part of yourself out of our work, you fail to be authentic.
Susan Scott summed this up in her book Fierce Conversations “There is no workable separation of selves at work and at home. We are ourselves all over the place, and it is this real self that is felt and experienced at a deeply personal level by ourselves and everyone on the receiving end of us, whether we acknowledge it or not.”
It all comes down to listening skills and being present.
Being present is critical in solo businesses as the work is immediately and inextricably personal. Your clients are buying your engagement, your presence. If you are not fully present, you are not providing them with the most value.
Think of it this way – if you bought a television and discovered it only shows a single channel, you’d feel cheated right?
Being present is a key ingredient for being yourself. We all like working with people who are real. If you were seeking the services, whether it’s of a mechanic or a surgeon, would you choose someone who think of their work as “an impersonal, competent, efficient, delivery of quality, definable and measurable outcomes?” Or would you prefer someone who listens and engages with you as a whole person? Someone you feel you can relate to; who recognises and connects with you as a person and not as the down payment on their next boat?
When someone pays us their undivided attention, it clearly signals to us that they care about what we have to say and what we are thinking. We feel validated and heard – the very things we all crave as social creatures.
"When someone pays us their undivided attention, it clearly signals to us that they care about what we have to say and what we are thinking."
There is also a personal reason for being fully present. Whether we work for someone else or ourselves, work consumes a significant portion of our lives. I believe work can be consciously designed as a vehicle for personal growth and fulfilment. Since we are already investing all that time; why not make it truly worth our while?!
Want more articles like this? Check out the business values section.
Life is a journey and work is part of that, so the only way to reap the whole benefit of that journey would be to pay attention. Have you even been on holidays when you were unwell, or you were worried about a big personal or career issue? How much of that holiday do you actually remember enjoying?
Being present with someone means: maintaining eye contact, maintaining an open body language, listening without formulating your response in your head, openly discussing an issue without hard-selling your one fixed point of view.
It helps a great deal if you can choose the people you want as clients and suppliers. After all, it is hard to be present with someone you want to run away from at the first opportunity!
So how does it feel to be present? You are likely to feel it when interaction with a close friend. Notice how you feel, and how you are interacting with each other. Do you listen genuinely to each other? Do you maintain eye contact? Do you suspend (immediate) judgement? Do you really try and understand what they are saying, to see their point of view, and to fit the new information onto what you already know about them?
Being 100% present is the most respect you can show a client; or any one else for that matter, including yourself. Being present is the only way to honour the journey of your life.
Are you already fully present in your interaciton with clients? Or could you take more of yourself to work? Tell us in the comments.