Arguably, the most important skill in business is listening. Some of us are better listeners than others, but we all must work on our listening skills if we are going to maximize our success in the business world.
- If you are going to be effective in selling, serving customers or managing others, you will need to be able to listen effectively to what others are telling you. Listening is a key ingredient in proper communication.
- Errors and mistakes often arise out of poor listening and jumping to conclusions as a result.
- Listening carefully to others shows that you are interested in what they have to say and that you respect their input.
- Listening is a skill that all business people need to master. Understanding what someone else is really saying can often minimize future problems and sometimes uncover opportunities.
Here are some simple tips for improving your listening skills:
- Try hard not to think about your response until the other person is done speaking. Trying to form your response while the other person is still talking means you probably won't hear everything you need to hear.
- Don't talk prematurely or interrupt. Allow the other person to complete their thoughts before jumping in. Interrupting a train of thought can often get the conversation off on a tangent and make it difficult to get back to what the other person wanted to say.
- Concentrate carefully on what the other person is saying. Look at the other person when they are speaking. Don't thumb through papers or appear distracted. Carefully listen to every word.
- Listen without bias. Before forming an opinion, let the other person explain their position. If you allow past experience or your opinion about the other person to bias your ability to listen effectively, what they are saying and what you interpret them to be saying could be entirely different.
- Never assume you know what the other person meant if the wording is unclear. If someone says that they need something "as soon as possible" does that mean now, tomorrow, next week or some other time? If you assume that it means one thing and the person meant another, you have a problem. Ask what they specifically mean when they make a comment that is unclear.
- Listen actively by nodding your head to acknowledge, making good eye contact, saying things such as, "I understand" or "that's interesting". This tells the other person you are listening attentively. Be careful not to overdo it in terms of nodding or making acknowledging remarks, however.
- Clarify by repeating in your own words when necessary what you understood the other person to say.
Practice your listening skills every day. You will be amazed at how much more effective your communication will turn out to be, and hence your sales success, when you assume the responsibility of becoming an excellent listener. One of the biggest obstacles in business is ineffective listening. Don't let it negatively impact your performance and sales results.
Good Luck & Good Selling!