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Keeping an ear to the ground is useful....but!

  • Thread starter johnthesearcher
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johnthesearcher

johnthesearcher

New Member
One of the 'drums' I'm always banging in communications is that "It's not always what you say that's important ....but what they (your target audience) hear!" and in the role reversal exercise .....YOU become the listener.

Good communication is simply a role reversal exercise between two people - YOU and your prospective client.

You ask your opening question (for example) "How is your business effected by ......... " and then listen .....he/she thinks about the question and then replies, giving you a hint on what your next question should be.

All good communicators ask lots of questions and listen very carefully to the answers. One of the most important skills of listening is simply to pause before replying. When your prospective client finishes talking, rather than jumping in with the first thing that you can think of, take three to five seconds to pause quietly and wait.

The success of many of our business activities depends on how well we listen. Studies show that we spend about 80 percent of our waking hours communicating, and at least 45 percent of that time listening.

But although listening is so critical in our daily lives, it is taught and studied far less than the other three basic communications skills: reading, writing, and speaking.

Much of the perceived trouble we have in communicating with others is usually because of poor listening skills.The good news is that listening efficiency can be improved by understanding the steps involved in the listening process and by following these basic guidelines.

Are You a Good Listener?

Most people are not. Many years ago, Sperry (now UniSys) did a survey and found that 85 percent of all people questioned rated themselves average or below in listening ability. Fewer than 5 percent rated themselves either superior or excellent.

The Four Steps of Listening

Hearing is the first step in the process. At this stage, you simply pay attention to make sure you have heard the message. If your client says, "I really need your proposal on my desk by Friday ....latest" you simply repeat the sentence internally, then reply to affirm your understanding.

The second step is interpretation. Failure to interpret the speaker's words correctly frequently leads to misunderstanding. People sometimes interpret words differently because of varying experience, knowledge, vocabulary, culture, background, and attitudes.

A good speaker uses tone of voice, facial expressions, and mannerisms to help make the message clear to the listener. For instance, if your client speaks loudly, frowns, and puts their hands on her hips, you know they are probably upset and angry.

During the third step, evaluation, you decide what to do with the information you have received. For example, when listening to your clents needs, you have two options: you choose either to accept or to reject the statements or presumptions made. The judgments you make in the evaluation stage are a crucial part of the listening process.

The final step is to respond to what you have heard. This is a verbal or visual response that lets the speaker know whether you have gotten the message and what your reaction is. When you tell the client that you would be happy to proceed on that basis, you are showing that you have heard and believe the message.

When it comes to listening, many of us are guilty (including me) of at least some bad habits. Instead of listening:

# We often think about what we're going to say next while the other person is still talking.

# We get easily distracted by the speaker's mannerisms or by what is going on around us.

# We often drift off into daydreams because we are sure we know what the speaker is going to say next.

All of these habits can hinder our listening ability. Contrary to popular notion, listening is not a passive activity. It requires full concentration and active involvement and is, in fact, hard work.

The following tips can help you become a better listener:

1. Don't talk. Listen. Studies show that sales people (you and I) are more likely to make a favourable impression and get the sale or project when we let the client do most of the talking.

2. Don't jump to conclusions. Assumptions can be dangerous. Maybe the speaker is not following the same train of thought that you are, or is not planning to make the point you think they are. If you don't listen, you may miss the real point the speaker is trying to get across.

3. "Listen "between the lines." Concentrate on what is not being said as well as what is being said.

4. Ask questions. If you are not sure of what the speaker is saying, ask. It's perfectly acceptable to say, “Do you mean . . . ?” or “Did I understand you to say . . . ?” It's also a good idea to repeat what the speaker has said in your own words to confirm that you have understood correctly.

5. Don't let yourself be distracted by the environment or by the speaker's appearance, accent, mannerisms, or word use. Keep an open mind. Don’t just listen for statements that back up your own opinions and support your beliefs. The point of listening, after all, is to gain new information.

6. Provide feedback. Make eye contact with the speaker. Show them you understand their talk by nodding your head, and, if appropriate, interjecting an occasional comment such as ''I see" or "that’s interesting." The speaker will appreciate your interest and feel that you are really listening.

Motivation is an essential key to becoming a good listener. Think how your ears perk up if someone says, "Let me tell you how pleased I am with that report you did,'' or "I plan to give you a million pounds as a bonus if we can deliver this project on time" That would get your interest and motivate you wouldn't it?

To get the most out of a meeting, speech, or conversation, go in with a positive attitude. Say to yourself, "What can I learn from this to make me more valuable in my industry and to this particular client'' You might be surprised at what you can learn, even from routine meetings and verbal jam sessions at the water cooler.

Quote of the day: ""We first make our habits, and then our habits make us."

Listen well...........

John
 
Scottish Business Owner

Scottish Business Owner

New Member
I'm starting to regard you as a bit of a guru now John and another excellent post :)

I think most of us are guilty of not listening enough and I tend to think people fear silence more so that's why they are thinking about the next question to try and avoid any awkward silence.

I always try to be a good listener but admit i sometimes get a bit over enthusiastic when people ask me what I do :p
 

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