Amy’s Bright Advice

amypicture The Art of Listening

Did you know that the need to be understood and listened to is a basic human need, along with food, water and shelter? As Diogenes Laertius said: “We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.”  The art of listening is an invaluable life skill.  Not only will it help you succeed in your business but it will also help you communicate better with your friends and family and every other area of your life. “According to the International Listening Association, more than 35 studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business, yet less than 2 percent of all professionals obtain training to improve listening skills,” Majer says, “Instead, the advantage is in customer service, and the essence of customer service is listening. When you really listen to customers and take their concerns seriously, they’re happy to do business with you, even if your prices are a bit higher.”
Important Listening Tips to Master:
1. Interpret what you hear. Don’t act as a parrot and repeat verbatim what was being said to you instead summarize the important points.
2. Clarify what you heard the other person say. ‘Let me be sure I understood you perfectly,’ and then you will paraphrase what was said in your own words and tell them what you think he or she meant.
3. Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions help form a deeper communication. Examples of open-ended questions in a networking atmosphere would be: “Tell me more about that…” or “What’s the biggest or most challenging thing you have experienced in your business?” These type of questions give you the ability to get a true feel for their beliefs, wants and needs, but most importantly the ability for you to listen more than speak.
4. Validate what you heard. Listening does not always mean agreeing but it does entail you being attentive and engaged assuring that the other is feeling heard. It’s imperative to receive a persons input with enthusiasm and due respect, even if the input is uninvited or you do not agree with what they are saying.
5. Do not interrupt. The goal of true listening is to let others have the spotlight not you.
6. Listen without thinking. Humans tend to only listen to the beginning of what someone is saying and then start to form their response, while the other person is still speaking. Listen without forming responses in your mind. Stay focused on their words and then formulate a response.
7. Listen to Non-Verbal Communication. It is essential to know what the person’s body is saying.  Do they display signs of discomfort?  Are they untrusting of you?  Does their body language align with their words?
Building relationships is the ultimate goal and productive communication is the way to achieve that goal. The most important question one should ask yourself when in a conversation with another is: If I am speaking but nobody is interested in wanting to hear what I am saying, am I really communicating or am I just talking? Make sure that your words are valuable to someone else and more importantly when someone is speaking with you make sure they feel that you find their words valuable.
Amy Bright has 20 years of sales and marketing experience. If you would like help branding your company please contact her at 925-634-0880 or at sales@monthlygrapevine.com.