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Ears as a tool for influence!

Monday, December 24, 2012
posted by Douglas Keene

We’ve written before about how having earlobes at varying heights is a common characteristic of leaders. But who knew your ears could actually influence others?

Okay, so it’s really more about what you do with your ears–but it still enhances your level of influence and persuasion among others. And that’s a good thing.

Researchers wondered how important listening was in social influence and persuasion. So they collected data from 274 MBA students on the East Coast (36% women, average age 28.3 years) who had former work colleagues rate them on various attributes (an average of 3.87 former colleagues rated each MBA student). The MBA students were rated on influence, listening, verbal expression and the Big Five personality dimensions (agreeableness, openness, extraversion, conscientiousness and emotional stability).

The researchers came to three major conclusions:

Listening is more important than expressing yourself verbally.

Ability to listen is related to your ability to exert influence through speaking/expressing yourself.

Willingness to listen is related to others seeing you as agreeable, open and influential. In other words, you may extend your own power to influence others by “getting others to open up, reveal information, and share critical points of view”.

For trial lawyers (and other evolving humans), it’s a skill frequently overlooked in a profession valuing oration and expression. So learn to listen. Practice listening and really having interest in what others have to share with you. Your range of information will be broader, you will have more to share when you choose to speak, and you will be seen more positively by others and as more persuasive and influential. And all you have to do is listen.

Ames, D., Maissen, L., & Brockner, J. (2012). The role of listening in interpersonal influence Journal of Research in Personality, 46 (3), 345-349 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2012.01.010

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