Have you ever been in a conversation where the other person is like the ‘Energizer Bunny’ and just keeps going and going and going? How long before you completely tune them out? Is it; one minute, three, maybe five or even longer? Statistics show that it is under the one-minute mark.
However, some in the sales game will use the above tactic as they feel by talking all the time they will wear you down and the only alternative to get them to shut up is to buy. Honesty check: How many of us have used the ‘gabfest technique?’ Don’t be shy, you are by yourself reading this.
The most critical part of a business is the least taught. Therefore, it’s not your fault.
Communication has two distinct parts. First, there is the verbal part, words. The ones you use can be of benefit, or they can disastrous. The more you speak, the more likely that the latter will come out. Secondly, and even more important, is listening. Not listening to respond with a ready answer or another feature of your product or service, but rather listening to understand. In other words; actively listening. It is amazing the amount of information that one can gather simply by actively listening.
The art of listening, yes, it is an art that must be learned, once learned will enable your prospect to be drawn instead of being repealed by you. You will have an interested and engaging prospect instead of a dead-eyed zombie. You will be perceived as an expert instead of a squawk box.
Here are five of the many simple things you can do to start mastering this art form:
- Eye Contact. If you are not making eye contact while they are speaking the thought is automatically: “They are not listening to me and really don’t care about me or my company.”
- Keep quiet. How many times did your mother tell you that? Should have listened to her. The art of active listening is that you are listening without interrupting. This is about them. Once it becomes about you, do yourself and everyone else who works in this industry a great service and leave.
- Prove you were listening. Once they stop, take a second or two and then paraphrase back to them what they said. Such phrases as: “What I heard you say was….” or: “Let me see if I heard you correctly, the main issue is…”
- The unspoken word. Over 90% of communication is nonverbal. Yes, less than 10% of communication is words and the rest deals with tonality and the big one, ‘body language.’ Your eye contact may say you are paying attention, but what does the rest of your body say? Are you fidgety, does your posture portray interest or boredom, are your hands giving you away? All of these and more can give you away. However, there is body language that shows that you are definitely listening.
- Listen without thinking or judgment. Listen for the joy of pure listening. If you are judging, you have already made your mind up about your prospect and your body language will show it. If you are an open blank page then you are not thinking about what you want to write on the page, but rather let their story fill the page. You may never know what may come from their story.
The art of listening is an invaluable skill that will not only make you successful in your business world, but also in life.
As Diogenes Laertius said so eloquently: “We have two ears and only one mouth in order that we may hear more and speak less.”