How I learned to listen – the hard way.

I used to think the best networkers were the people who offered a lot of personal opinions, seasoned with wit and timing. For years, I tried to be one of those people.

Offering opinions became a hobby of mine until I realized that I couldn’t be funny all the time and that when I missed the target, it didn’t end well – for me or the person with whom I was speaking.

I realized that I needed to curb my enthusiasm for offering opinions quickly, often with few facts. I was missing out on some great opportunities to build personal and professional relationships. And I certainly wasn’t coming across as empathetic and approachable (which is what I want and need to do as a marketing strategy expert who helps people build their businesses).

I did a lot of reading about people with a high level of emotional intelligence, which I see as the ability to identify with and relate to others. I wanted to be one of those people and set out to build my own emotional intelligence by applying three strategies. First, I keep myself open to other people and their stories. Second, I ask questions and listen – closely. And third, I never offer an opinion unless I am asked.

Actually applying those strategies was at first scary to someone who once felt compelled to offer the first comment or opinion to gain control of a conversation. Now, as a better listener, I am able to help others feel comfortable in sharing their story, aspirations and ideas with me in a real, two-way conversation. For me, that’s what life (and business) success is all about.

This blog post was written by Evan Thompson. Catch Evan at MoMondays Toronto on 11/25/2013! Get your advance tickets here: Buy Tickets

Evan loves sharing personal stories at MoMondays gathered over his lengthy business career. He is owner of Evan Thompson and Associates in Toronto and has provided marketing communications and business development coaching to professionals representing the financial services and other industries for three decades. He is also a journalist with experience in Canada and the U.K. and has spoken on marketing and business communications before professional audiences in Canada and the U.S.
For more about Evan, visit

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