Do You Know How to Listen?

The 10 Commandments of Powerful Listening

 

 

Rules for being a good listener involve courtesy and common sense. Some rules may seem obvious, or trivial, but it is amazing how many people forget them. Often, you don’t mean to be rude, but your enthusiasm for a subject and your own desire to hear yourself talk make you forget courtesy. At other times, you are so intent with expressing your own viewpoint that you forget to listen to what the other person is saying. You just plain stop listening!

 

Here are some rules for good listening:

 

1. Fight off distractions. Train yourself to listen carefully to your prospect’s words despite such external distractions as a ringing telephone, passersby, or outside noises. Focus on words, ideas, feelings, and the underlying intent of your prospects.

 

2. Do not trust your memory. Take notes. However, keep your notes brief, because listening ability is impaired while you are writing. All you need to write down is something to jog your memory later so that you can recall the complete content of the message.

 

3. Let your prospects tell their own stories first. When prospects explain their situations, they may reveal interesting facts and valuable clues that will aid you in helping them to solve their problems and satisfy their needs. Then, you can tailor your discussion to their particular needs, goals, and objectives. You can thus dispense with those aspects of your presentation that may have been inappropriate to that specific prospect.

 

4. Use feedback. Constantly try to check your understanding of what you hear. Do not hear only what you want to hear. In addition, consistently check to see if your prospect wants to comment or respond to what you have previously said.

 

5. Listen selectively. Very often in conversation, your prospects will tell you specific things that will help you identify their problems. These critical messages may be hidden within the much broader context of the conversation. You must listen in such a way that you can separate the wheat from the chaff.

 

6. Relax. When your prospect is speaking to you, try to put this individual at ease by creating a relaxed and accepting environment. Don t give the impression you want to jump right in and speak.

 

7. Listen attentively. Face your prospects straight on, with uncrossed arms and legs, and lean slightly forward. Establish good eye contact. Nod affirmatively and use appropriate facial expressions when called for, but don’t overdo it.

 

8. Create a positive listening envıronment. Try to ensure an atmosphere of privacy away from sources of distraction. Do not violate your prospect’s “personal space.” Take great effort to make sure that the environment is conducive to effective listening.

 

9. Ask questions. Ask open‑ended questions to allow your prospects to express their feelings and thoughts. The effective use of questions shows your prospects that you are interested and that you are listening, and it allows you to contribute to the conversation.

 

10. Be motivated to listen. Without the proper attitude, all the foregoing suggestions for effective listening are for naught. Try to keep in mind that there is no such thing as an uninteresting speaker—there are only uninterested listeners.

 

These are the 10 commandments of powerful listening. If you are really willing to learn how to listen it will take a lot of hard work to learn the skills, and constant practice to stay in shape. Remember that prospects feel relieved when they find salespeople who understand what they have to say about their problems. Once you truly understand your prospects by actively listening to them, they will most likely reciprocate by listening to you and trying to understand your viewpoint. Isn’t this what selling is all about?

 

 

This article was adapted from Tony Alessandra’s new six‑cassette audio alburn, The Dynamics of Effective Listening, available for $59. To place your order or receive information about Dr. Alessandra speaking to your group, call 1-800-222-4383.

Do You Know How Much The Art Of Listening Can Help You?

Listening Attentively

 

Have you ever been to a dinner party where you sensed the talk wasn’t really a conversation as much as a series of monologues? First, somebody tells about their vacation, and maybe a dutiful but shallow question or two is asked. Then somebody else brags about his kid getting into medical school, which leads another guest to talk about her own college days. On and on it goes, while eyes wander and heads occasionally nod between bites of quiche and sips of French Colombard.

You get the impression no one is really listening. Rather, they’re just rehearsing what they might say. Maybe they’re thinking about how to sound good, how strongly to make their points, or how to outshine the others. As a result, by evening’s end, everyone will have talked-but people really won’t have communicated much or gotten to know each other very well.

Unfortunately, many of our everyday conversations are like that, too. While we hear, we only pretend to listen. Listening doesn’t just mean shutting up while someone else speaks-though that’s a start. (“A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat,” one English wit said.)

But listening-real listening-takes more work than that. It’s more than the physical process of hearing. It also takes intellectual and emotional effort. To get a full appreciation of the other person and what’s being said, you need to ask questions, give feedback, remain objective, figure out what’s really being said and what’s not being said, and observe and interpret body language.

As Matthew McKay and Martha Davis say in their book, How to Communicate, “Listening is a commitment and a compliment. It’s a commitment to understanding how other people feel, how they see their world” and it’s “a compliment because it says to the other person: ‘I care about what’s happening to you, your life and your experience are important.'”

When you want to win someone’s attention and gain his or her confidence, listening is just as important as speaking. Good listening draws people to you; poor listening causes them to drift away.

Here are some ideas on ways to make active listening easier for you:

1. Listen–really listen–to one person for one day. Choose one person you could relate to better. Commit to listening to them-not just hearing them-for one day.

Once you’ve gotten into this habit of nudging yourself to listen better, extend this exercise to successive days, then to other acquaintances as well.

2. Create a receptive listening environment. Turn off the TV. Hold your calls. Put away your spread sheets and silence your computer. When listening, forget about clipping your nails, crocheting, solving crossword puzzles, or snapping your chewing gum. Instead, try to provide a private, quiet, comfortable setting where you sit side by side with others without distractions. If that’s not possible, perhaps suggest a later meeting in a more neutral, quieter environment.

3. Be alert to your body language. What you do with your eyes, face, hands, arms, legs, and posture sends out signals as to whether you are, or aren’t, listening to and understanding what the other person is saying.

When you acknowledge the other person both verbally and nonverbally, you build trust and increase rapport. And you’ll probably learn something, too!

4. Abstain from judging. As someone once advised, “Grow antennae, not horns.” If you prejudge someone as shallow or crazy or ill informed, you automatically cease paying attention to what they say. So a basic rule of listening is to judge only after you’ve heard and evaluated what they say. Don’t jump to conclusions based on how they look, or what you’ve heard about them, or whether they’re nervous.

5. Create and use an active-listening attitude. Learning to be an active listener is like learning to be an active jogger. It takes effort. You start little by little and work upward. It’s as much a state of mind as a physical activity. Besides, as you work longer and get better, it pays ever-increasing benefits.

I would like to hear from you-Have you tried one of these ideas for active listening yourself? Have they worked? Do you have another idea to add to the list? Special gift to those who take a moment to give an answer that will help others!