This week marks the first anniversary of my radio show, Head over Heels. Now, fifty two weeks later, more than fifty interviews later, and more work than I ever anticipated, the radio show has taken on a life of it’s own.

One year ago, I was open to trying something new and learning new skills; how to conduct good interviews; how to find interesting topics and guests; how to present valuable information to my listeners. I have had many terrific guests on the show who have taught me a great deal about a variety of subjects such as diversity issues and leadership, negotiation skills, accessing capital, how to use social media to build your business, how to communicate more effectively, how to create and maintain work/life balance, and many more. I am grateful to the generosity of all the women who have been on my show and graciously donated their time and expertise.

Thinking back on the experience of the last year, I believe that one of the most important skills I developed doing live radio has been to listen and listen intently. When you do live radio, you don’t have the opportunity to see the other person. You cannot always anticipate their rhythm, if they are pausing for a breath or completing their thought. Everyone has unique speech patterns and communication skills. Some of my guests are very animated and have many examples and stories to share. Others are direct and give clear concise statements. The point is that I almost never know before we go live how they will respond. Most of the time, I have never spoken to my guests ahead of time. Scary, huh?

But that’s where good listening comes in. I have learned to tune in to each person’s rhythm and personality by listening and focusing on the present. I have learned to listen carefully to their response and see if there is a logical follow up question. I have learned not to focus on what my next question is, but what they are saying right now that has significance.

As host of the radio show, I have learned to intentionally put my agenda aside, and focus 100% on my guests and the information they have to share. In the end, that’s the “secret sauce” to conducting successful interviews. But isn’t good listening also the “secret sauce” for building and sustaining relationships?

Next time you are meeting with a client or prospect, or engaged in a conversation with a friend, try to listen more intently to what they are saying, stay present, and put your own agenda aside for a moment and see how that affects the conversation. The more you practice this, the better you’ll be at building relationships to improve your professional and business life.

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