Hello – Can Anybody Hear Me? – Three tips for better listening
Written by Pati Root
Think back to the last time you participated in a conversation and were cut off mid-thought, mid-sentence, or perhaps you just got your mouth open to say something and whoosh, you were talked over. What did you think and feel when this happened? Was it a so-what? Most likely the thought blazed across your mind ‘what I have to say is not important to this person’, or with repeated over talking you started to feel YOU were not important.
There is a popular talk show with a cast of women sharing views who constantly talk over each other. It irritates the bejeebies out of me that no listens to the other person. Thoughts are never completely communicated, and because I don’t gain insight, I choose to not watch the program, regardless of who the guest are or what the topic is.
Being heard is important. In relationships being heard validates who you are and the value you bring to the relationship. This includes friends, partner, and family. Too often I work with people who get to the point of not wanting to be around particular people or family members because they feel the other person always ‘knows everything’ forcing their opinions on others, or are being constantly judged as not being good enough. When we peel the perceptions back and look at the reality we find the anger and hurt begins with not having a voice that is heard.
In the business world it is imperative you hear your customer/clients voice. Just as in personal relationships if your client doesn’t have a voice, they feel unimportant. Additionally, if you don’t listen to your customer/client, you don’t have a clue what is important to them (you think you do, but really, you don’t). This critical skill allows you to understand business drivers and needs (big picture goals and business steps to achieve), and identify what your customer has deemed important for them to make their business grow and thrive. Failure to listen will either slow a sales cycle or kill it all together 60% of the time.
Overall, you should be listening 75% of the time, and talking 25% of the time.
To help you become a better listener, follow these three tips:
1. Do not be thinking about what you want to say while the other person is speaking. Instead, focus on what the other person is saying. If you think of something you want to ask or include in the conversation, jot a quick word down that will remind you of what you want to say. In casual conversation, trust your gut that you will know what to say when the other person stops talking. Be present in the conversation.
2. Listen for central ideas, not the facts. People are quick to jump in and correct a fact that may not even be closely related to the theme of the story, completely derailing the speaker, and creating frustration and anger. Listen for the theme then clarify facts and ideas.
3. Allow the speaker to finish their point. Ask questions about perceptions, assumptions and conclusions. If you must interrupt, raise a hand or index finger (yes, even if you speaking with a family member) and tactfully say, “Might I interrupt to ask you to clarify something?”
Following these three common sense tips (which we commonly forget) will allow you to hear the other person. They will increase your popularity index a bunch, and while I can’t promise they will make you a millionaire, they will make you rich with knowledge of the other person, provide insight in business needs and personal relationships while helping you develop the critical skill of listening.
Now hear this: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary session. A coach can help you learn to listen and how to be heard.