We’re all guilty of it — that moment during a conversation where you realize you have no idea what the person you are having a discussion with just said. Whether you were daydreaming, zoned out, or you were too busy thinking about what to say next and when you’ll get the chance to say it, all lead to the same result of not being properly engaged in the conversation. What most people don’t know is that this can be detrimental when relationship-building. While not your intention, poor listening can result in others feeling that you are only thinking of yourself and your personal gains. The best solution to combat this problem is to employ active listening in your daily conversations.
When actively listening, you are able to pick up on more nuance in conversation and get to know the person you are speaking with on a more personal level. The more you learn about a person, the more you can create stronger bonds with acts of gratitude throughout your relationship. In a business setting this tees you up for success for follow up meetings, emails, and other touch points. In your active listening conversations, you’ll likely pick up on quite a few tidbits of information that make incredible opportunities for showing gratitude.
One way to stand out from a generic follow up email or text is sending a Thnks. Thnks allows you to find and send a wide variety of items and pair them with a personalized note. While handwritten notes or gifts sent in the mail are nice, they aren’t instant and you often need to track down addresses that are not always easily accessible. With the Thnks platform, you can send a gesture of appreciation instantly via text or email.
Now it’s time to take your active listening and timely follow ups to action. Here are a few things to listen for when you’re seeking opportunities to show gratitude and deepen your relationships - and a few examples for how you can incorporate timely tokens of appreciation:
Taking note of major life changes will likely be the easiest place to start honing your active listening skills. Since change can be so exciting; marriages, new babies, and moving are all topics people love to share about. Consider showing how much you care about these changes by sending a quick Thnks. Is a new mom or dad on the team telling you how they are balancing parenthood and sleep with their office hours? A coffee and kind message could go a long way after that conversation.
Not all change is easy, and showing you care can be even more important in those less-than-exciting moments. Family and friends could be sick, children might be moving away for college, and family pets may pass. Tread lightly here, since some changes can be very personal and acting without the right relationship to back it up can come off as inauthentic. If you feel comfortable doing so, a timely and thoughtful act of gratitude in these moments could be extremely impactful and deepen the relationship. Try sending a bowl of soup to an employee who had to take a sick day, or a sunny bouquet to remind someone that brighter days are on their way. Showing that you’re listening, offering care and support, and following up kind words with thoughtful actions can be some of the most pivotal and memorable moments in relationship-building.
Important dates and milestones
Some opportunities to show gratitude and care come around every year — but that doesn’t make them any less important. We’ve likely all had the disheartening experience of showing up to work or school on your birthday without anyone acknowledging it. Even with the best planning, life can sometimes get the better of us when we keep track of so many important dates. One way to make sure no important dates go unnoticed is to schedule personalized Thnks the minute you learn of these big days. Is a team member celebrating an important milestone with the company? You could treat a team member to an Amazon workiversary shopping spree, or a birthday bottle of their favorite wine. Scheduling these quick acts of gratitude is easy, and the impact will be monumental.
Hobbies, interests, or other things that excite
Your active listening skills can be put to the greatest test and be your asset in the realm of small talk. A conversation about the weather could uncover a passion for gardening or a future marathon runner. Talking about plans for the weekend might unveil culinary preferences or that their band has a gig on Saturday. These seemingly small nuggets of information are invaluable in building relationships and showing you truly listen and care at the personal level.
Here are some examples of how to follow up based on what you have learned.For the avid gardener, send lunch on a gorgeous Saturday since you know they’ll probably be busy getting their hands dirty all afternoon. Send the runner in your life a stainless steel water bottle a few weeks before a race to make sure they’re staying hydrated at the peak of their training. Knowing you’re on someone’s mind at a random time is a great feeling and will make you more likely to think highly of that person.
Active listening is an integral part of strengthening relationship bonds. The information you pick up allows you to personalize your gestures of gratitude beyond just an ordinary thank you. Whether it’s a client you’ve closed your first deal with or a team member you’ve worked with for years, it’s important to share how thankful you are for that relationship. So prime your ears for some deep listening, and get ready to show some Thnks!