There are a number of traps we all fall into when it comes to being an effective listener. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Our mind wanders if we find the topic or speaker uninteresting.
- We start to evaluate the speaker, rather than their message.
- We allow distractions to interrupt us.
- We ‘switch off’ if the subject is unfamiliar or difficult.
- We become emotionally involved, letting our feeling for a particular word or statement distract us from the full message.
Developing good listening skills is just as important as developing the professional skills you have that make you a great business person.
Engage the 80/20 rule when dealing with your customers: listen 80% of the time, and speak only 20%. When you are actively listening to your customers and prospects, you’re learning about their needs and building a relationship.
When you are speaking, ask key questions, paraphrase what they’ve said to show you understand, and give ‘positive strokes’ in your body language, and in your words—such as “Uh huh”, “Right”, “I see”, and so on.
Active listening can be hard work, but it is crucial to building successful relationships, and therefore in growing your business.