One of the best ways to persuade others is by listening to them.
Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State 1961-1969
You go to a networking event and the person with whom you are speaking is busy looking over your right shoulder and obviously thinking about who else they can meet.
Your prospect is busy checking their phone while you are speaking with them about their project.
Your co-workers seem to suffer from severe distraction whenever they are in a meeting.
Ever experience any of the above? Sure you have!
These days it seems as if listening is truly a lost art. People are impatient, distracted, zoned out while checking their tiny little screens and simply disengaged from the “real” conversation that is at hand. It’s sad really because effective listening is truly fundamental to successful communication and ultimately, to business growth.
Could this be you? Regardless if whether you think you’re a good listener or not here are some things that you can do to improve your listening skills:
• Focus and give your full attention to the person with whom you are speaking. Don’t kid yourself, you can’t talk and listen at the same time. Block out external noise and internal distractions and pay attention to what is being said.
• Concentrate on the person’s words and also their feelings and attitudes as communicated by their tone of voice. Their tone of voice can contradict the words that they are saying. You must listen in order to “get it right.”
• Ask questions and don’t make assumptions about what you “think” they are going to say. Assumptions can lead you to react and to respond inappropriately. It’s often a good idea to prepare some questions in advance so that you can be “in the moment” and hence, able to listen effectively.
• Don’t stop listening to plan what YOU want to say. If you are planning your response you are not able to listen as effectively as you should.
The accepted rule in conversation is that you should be listening 80% of the time and speaking just 20%. Think about your business conversations; who is doing most of the talking? Effective listening is hard work and can take some practice but the results are well worth it. Good listening will lead to more satisfied clients, increased sales conversion and stronger relationships with referral sources. It’s a win-win for all.