One thing that social media has taught us is that everyone wants to be listened to. Being listened to means you are being taken seriously. Unfortunately, a lot of business people don’t know how to listen effectively. With consumers well informed on pricing and product specs, the art of listening is what often differentiates competitors from each other.
Additionally, listening is a key to good management. Your employees also want to be heard and feel like you are digesting what they have to say and not just patronizing them. Listening effectively is a show of respect. And as a manager, you also need to ensure that your employees themselves are listening to clients, colleagues and business associates. That means some form of training in the art of listening.
Effective listening can open the door to new opportunities, increase revenue, improve customer service and boost employee productivity. Everyone can use help fine-tuning or improving their listening skills. Want to become a better listener? These tips can help:
True listening involves hearing plus interpreting. For example, when you respond to a client’s question, don’t just parrot them and come back with “So what you’re saying is . . .” Interpret what they said and paraphrase your response in your own jargon. That way, your client is assured you heard them correctly, have considered what their intent is, and now you’re replying with some additional, clarifying information to move the conversation forward.
You can open the door to deeper communication by asking open-ended questions that encourage interpretation, such as, “Tell me more about what you’re expecting the lighting system to control” or “What other issues regarding the control system would you like to discuss?”
Always validate. Receive your client’s input with enthusiasm and respect, even when the input is off the mark. Acknowledge the input, and mold your response toward an idea better suited for the desired outcome. Never reply with a “No, let me explain it to you.” You don’t always have to agree with a client, but you don’t want to strip your client of their dignity – stay attentive and engaged. Listen.