"Oh, the time has come for my dreams to be heard. They will not be pushed aside and turned into your own all 'cause you won't..."
Listening is obviously important, but it can be more challenging than we sometimes know or care to admit. We often confuse hearing with listening.
Author Bob Moulesong describes hearing as the physical ability, while listening is a skill. “Listening skills allow one to make sense of and understand what another person is saying.” True listening is not simply regurgitating information that a client has given us or simply waiting for our time to speak. “In other words, listening skills allow people to understand what someone is talking about - the meaning behind the words.”
So, how do we apply this skill in the service of getting more clients as well as helping our clients achieve the best results possible?
One way is to reflect back to the 1950s and implement some of the 'active listening' techniques devised by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson:
- Really listen. Don't think about what you want to ask or tell the person in front of you. Instead, take in everything that they are telling you, verbally and non-verbally. Make the conversation, and the experience, about them, and not about you.
- Don't finish the other person's sentence. Although very slow thinking and talking can be irritating, don't interrupt.
- Your body language says a lot. Without staring, look the other person in the eye and mirror their body language. Toastmasters International, a world leading organization in communication and leadership development, points out that “Non-verbally, mirroring says 'Look at me, I'm the same as you. I feel the same way and share the same attitudes.' Mirroring puts others at ease and is a powerful rapport building tool.”
- Notice the little things. Listen for details in what the other person is communicating, verbally and non-verbally. This will improve the quality of the questions that you ask and further build rapport with your client/customer.
- Be a friend, not a judge. We have to resist the impulse to offer the clients advice quickly. Instead, only once we have truly understood the client’s goals and motivation should we begin to collaborate on a solution. For example, slowly and clearly lay out the vision, their road map to success as well as the options that will work best for them. Let them pick one of the two options that you have offered.
Follow this guide to listening and watch your sales numbers soar!
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