The lost art of listening.
It seems that with all of the technology – texting – emailing that goes on today, we feel that our message is sometimes more important than the one that comes to us. Here's what you need to know about listening. It doesn't matter what job position that you are in. To be respected and in order to communicate your message to others, you need to be able to write, speak, and listen effectively. The most important of the three is listening.
Listening skills may also be the most difficult to perfect., and the one that people put the least amount of work into.
Whether you are a salesperson or sales manager, it's important to not only be focused on the message that you are delivering, or planning to deliver, but rather, you need to really hear what others are saying to you. The message that you receive is just as important as the message that you give. If you put the hard work in to really listen on a deeper level, you will see a difference in how your communication skills will improve.
Here are some things to keep in mind when in your next meeting, listening to your next conference call, or meeting with a prospect:
- Really concentrate on what is being said. These words sound so easy, but really challenge yourself to stop talking, and let the other person get their message out. Our minds never stop thinking – which is what makes listening so difficult at times. There are many instances when someone else is talking and you are thinking about your next meeting that you have to make, or the family issues you left at home that morning.
Our brains never get a break, and that's why it's so important to force yourself to be in the moment -listening and digesting what the other person is saying completely.
You have worked hard to get that meeting, or that client, so always make sure that you do whatever it takes to make those minutes count.
- Be aware of what your body is saying to those around you when they are speaking, as well. Are you looking down or are you giving them direct eye contact? Are you leaning forward or pulling back? Are you fidgeting with your papers or pen? Do you seem somewhat enthusiastic about what they are saying, or are you sending signals that you are bored and would rather be somewhere else? People read into all of these signals, so always be sure that you are sending the right ones – showing the other person that you are really focused on the here and now.
- Do not allow your "brain" to make judgments too early in the conversation. Do you allow them to get their thought out or do you interrupt and finish their sentences? Because we can listen faster than someone can speak, we have to take that extra moment to really "take in" what is being said, especially when it doesn't agree with you or your thoughts.
- Don't take things too personal.
When listening to negotiations with a customer, or a meeting with a boss, do you every feel angry?
I would be lying to you if I said no. However, no matter how hard it is, you need to keep your emotions in check. Neither the tone of your voice or the expression on your face should show what ever inner turmoil that you are experiencing. You are not sitting there listening with the purpose of convincing someone that they are wrong. A positive approach to a "difficult" conversation, and most of them are, would be to first comment on the points that you do agree on, and then explain the areas that you disagree with. You can offer your criticisms and differences, but doing so in a calm and collected manner will keep the conversation moving forward in a positive manner.
- Repeat – in a condensed version – what you heard back to the person who said it. "Paraphrasing" encourages you to listen carefully, ensuring that you will be on target with what is being said. Also, by saying your interpretation back to the other person, this gives then the chance to further clarify and expand on what they have said, as well. And, as we all know, the better the clearer the information that you get, the better it will be for you to do what you need to do. paraphrasing response will clarify for the sender that his or her message was correctly received and encourage the sender to expand on what he or she is trying to communicate.
- Be tuned in to the "emotional" part when listening to a conversation. Are you just hearing the words, or are you picking up on the anger or frustration in their voice, or their hesitation in some way? Are they acting jittery or nervous, or are they appearing confident? Are they making direct eye contact? Notice all of these things and then do what you need to do, either to make them feel more at ease, more confident, more understood.
Be a better listener in every situation in you life, and you will see what a valuable communicator you will become, and you will also find that those involved in your conversations will be appreciative of your listening skills, as well. The only information that will benefit you is that information that you "hear" fully. Keep your ears fully open at all times, and listening will be another sharpened tool in your sales process.