Win People Over by Listening and Other Must-Read Business Tips

A look at how to hear what people are saying, why you shouldn't try to please everyone and more advice for business owners.

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By Brian Patrick Eha Originally published Oct 18, 2013

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Entrepreneurs might spend a lot of time learning how to present themselves properly, how to pitch effectively and how to command the attention of colleagues, employees, business associates and investors. But in all this talking, they may forget how to listen. "Human beings listen inefficiently, cherry-picking what they want to hear and embedding only that in their memory bank," says Judith Glaser, the author of Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results.

For instance, you may come away from a pitch meeting or an encounter at a networking event thinking it was positive when in fact the other person wasn't interested. To steer clear of this blind spot, Glaser recommends confirming what others are saying by using "discovery questions" such as "How do you feel about this?" That way you will have a clearer picture of the true impact of your words and ideas. More: Identifying Your Conversational Blind Spots

Forget about trying to please everyone.
"It's impossible to achieve any level of success in business, or even your personal life, without attracting haters," says marketing and business-development expert Lewis Howes. But you shouldn't let negative remarks get you down. Put them in context: Were they made by a jealous rival? An unreasonable customer? Someone from the peanut gallery whose opinion won't affect your business? Address legitimate problems, but otherwise don't let criticism distract you from your goals. Remember, it's impossible to become all things to all people," Howes says. "The moment you try to please everyone, you'll no longer have a business that stands out." More: 3 Reasons Success Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

Create a network from the ground up.
Rather than attending a bunch of networking events, why not become a connector? Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette coach and the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011), suggests starting a new Meetup group or hosting a dinner party. "When you host your own networking event, it's a way to put yourself on the map with people," Whitmore says. "It's not about selling, but rather initiating and facilitating an event that adds value for everyone involved." More: Master Your 'Mingle-Ability': 5 Creative Ways to Network

Work-from-home policies can prevent toxic work environments.
Although there are reasonable arguments for making employees show up to the office each day, telecommuting has the benefit of reducing office politics and cliquishness. Sticking a bunch of people together in a confined space for several hours a day, five days a week, can increase collaboration and improve productivity, but it can also lead to backbiting and nasty gossip, says Lindsay Broder, a New York City-based executive coach. Decide whether you would rather risk a drop in productivity or a toxic work environment, and make your policy accordingly. More: How to Protect Corporate Culture in a Telecommuting World

Time off is time off, period.
Vacations are great, but those two or three weeks a year aren't going to prevent you from getting burnt out. In order to stay fresh, you will need to carve out time each week to relax. Darren Gallop was forced to stop working on weekends at his doctor's orders. Gallop, the chief executive of Marcato Digital Solutions, a Nova Scotia, Canada-based company that makes software for the music industry, had to forswear weekend work calls, texts and emails. "With the exception of a few major critical deadlines, I have never gone back to my old habits," he says. Better to implement a rest-and-relaxation plan yourself than wait until your doctor orders one for you. More: 5 Ways to Avoid Burnout

Brian Patrick Eha

Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.

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