“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” – Diogenes
As I work with business professionals, some are surprised when I say that listening is one of the most underrated yet essential skills for salespeople, managers, and leaders to have.
Good business people are indeed active listeners. They actively listen both to the words that others speak and to the feelings behind the words. They are strategic in their approach to listening!
What do good listeners do that makes them excellent listeners?
- They probe for clarification.
- They listen for a story and unvoiced emotions.
- They empathise.
- They summarise well.
- They get rid of distractions while listening.
- They keep the client talking by asking for more details that help them understand.
- They encourage by nodding their head or giving a slight smile.
- They ask how they might be of help.
What good listeners don’t do:
- Good listeners don’t interrupt.
- Respond too soon.
- Editorialise in midstream.
- Jump to conclusions.
- Judge the speaker.
- Try to solve the problem too quickly.
- Take calls or interruptions in the course of a meeting (which is a growing lack of respect that I frequently see).
Tom Peters, the brilliant business consultant, and speaker says that “listening is the ultimate Core Competence”:
Listening is… the ultimate mark of Respect. Listening is… the heart and soul of Engagement. Listening is… the heart and soul of Kindness. Listening is… the heart and soul of Thoughtfulness. Listening is… the basis for true Collaboration. Listening is… the basis for true Partnership. Listening is… a Developable Individual Skill.
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menninger