Do you have different levels of listening? You probably do and don’t want to admit it.
How many times have you nodded or said “uh huh” to a person and you really didn’t process a word they just said to you?
This can’t happen when you are conducting business.
Many ideas are communicated only when the listener pays attention to more than just the words that are spoken. Great communication is achieved only when people use their EYES, EARS and their MINDS! It takes all three to become a great active listener.
Most successful people are active listeners. They listen to what their partners are telling them, they listen to what clients are saying and they pay attention to what other successful people are doing. They are successful because they stay actively involved. They absorb information both through the words they hear and the speaker’s body language.
LISTEN TO LEARN
Active listening is an important key to knowing your customer, and good listening skills usually have to be cultivated. Even sharp people often have poor listening skills by nature. Being a good listener is a rare ability, but with practice can be learned by anybody.
Our society is filled with audible distractions and devices that would easily prevent a person from really listening. Because of that, being able to block all that out and focus on what is being said is even more important.
“Listen” is a verb. It indicates action and activity. What action is involved in listening? There’s no action! Really? So, your ears just work automatically? Listening requires mental and physical activity from YOU!
Imagine you talking to a person. Are you taking notes? If you are, you are hearing and seeing at the same time.
Are you looking at the person? You should be. You can listen with your eyes too. You can see the person’s body language. That is meaningful information you are collecting just by watching.
Being a great listener really means being a good communicator, because when you listen you should be translating the words so you know the intended meaning of what you are hearing. You have to be engaged in the conversation to know what you are really being told.
If a potential client is talking to you, is the look on his/her face in agreement with his words, or does his facial expression tell a different story? Be sure you know, or you might miss the truth. If you miss the truth, you just might miss the sale!
LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND
There are five great ways to help you understand people better. If you follow these steps, you will be a better listener. You will also stop worrying about making a sale when you are in somebody’s house. You will help the potential client be more comfortable too. It takes time and practice to master the craft of listening, but these five rules will help you improve your ability to listen.
- Don’t interrupt: Allow the speaker to convey his thoughts without rushing to convey your thoughts and ideas. This shows respect and genuine interest.
- Sit down: If the situation presents itself, sit directly in front of the speaker. This lets the speaker know he has your full attention and that you are committed to what he has to say.
- Maintain eye contact: Face the speaker. Keep your mind open to receive the information. Maintain eye contact and occasionally nod your head to let the speaker know you comprehend what he is saying. If you are in a meeting or conference, it might be impossible to maintain eye contact. In these situations, it is OK to take notes to reinforce key information, and to show you are paying attention.
- Acknowledge his words: An occasional head nod shows the speaker you are actively engaged in what he is saying. Audible affirmations such as “yes,” “by all means,” “that is true” or “I understand” are completely acceptable.
- End with open questions: When the speaker has finished his thoughts, end the discussion with a couple of open questions. These questions should require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer.
Another thing that is effective in listening is to mimic people mentally or duplicate the facial expressions of the person speaking. Treat the speaker like a performer in a play that you need to be able to duplicate. Can you repeat what the person has said? Can you mimic their expressions? This helps to understand what the person wants me to know.
Recording conversations – when appropriate – is another great way to improve your listening skills. It also makes you an active listener because you had to think to bring a recorder before you even arrived at your meeting, seminar, etc.
LISTENING WHILE SELLING
When you are in a client’s home and you are trying to make a sale, you can mimic your clients. I don’t mean sit in front of them and make the exact same face they do. They will think you are making fun of them. I mean position your body the way they are sitting in order to feel what they are feeling.
You can pick up on things the person is thinking without them even saying it. You will understand them better.
Listen without any preconceived notions of what the other person will say. You should not enter conversations – especially when trying to make a sale – with a bunch of preconceived notions in your mind. Don’t assume anything! Just listen to the person and be genuinely interested in what is being communicated.
Make your car a Rolling University
Many people spend hours of time in their cars on a daily basis. Do they use that time to be productive? Some do. Others spend that time listening to sports radio, talk radio, or the latest single from Lady Gaga.
Instead of doing that, what people should do is make phone calls – safely – and listen to audio that will help them grow their business, improve their skills and help them live a better life.
Motivated business people use their time wisely and sharpen their minds even when they are just riding in the car. It makes the time go by faster too.
Active listening should be diligently practiced. This habit will help advance your career by sending a message to your clients that you have a sincere interest in them and not just making a sale. It tells management that you are eager to learn and want to excel in your business.