This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

13 dangling headphones for increased listening

Influencing by listening is not easy for most. Business people in particular are well-trained to think in linear terms, to count on the power of logic, and to believe in persuasion by PowerPoint. So when I say, “To influence, you must listen,” it probably sounds like, “In order to do something, don’t do anything.”

This is particularly challenging when you’re trying to influence a group in a meeting, because you have to listen to many people, not just one. (And let’s be honest: one is hard enough.)

The next time you want to be more influential in a group setting, try following this five-point checklist:

  1. Before the meeting, prepare your mind. Take a few moments to quietly detach from the outcome. Loosen your grip on the results. As good golfers say, “Trust your swing.” Also, be willing to be influenced in the process. You might learn something new, plus your openness to influence will paradoxically make you more influential.
  2. When you state your point of view, state it crisply and simply. Be succinct. Don’t overwork it.
  3. Spend the majority of your time listening. Cultivate an attitude of curiosity about what others are saying. You’ll know you’ve listened well when others naturally turn the conversation back to you (“What do you think?”).
  4. When you get the cue that it’s your turn to be listened to, be sure to build on what’s been said. Words like “the problem with that is …” or “the only issue with that approach is …” or “I understand, but …” are negating, not validating. Instead, use a “Yes, and” approach. Lead with what you liked about what you’ve heard. Make linkages. Expand ideas.
  5. When the conversation begins to conclude, summarize the outcome. If everyone is pleased, congratulations—you have done well. If you or others are dissatisfied, make time to go back to point 3 and listen more.

Make it Real

This week, be experimental: choose one meeting and apply the five-point checklist. What’s challenging? What’s effective? What do you learn?

Learn More


Read up on how to listen without saying a thing, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or learn more about reciprocity in Chapter 3 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).