In two words: total focus! To become a great listener, there needs to be nothing, and I mean nothing, going on in your mind. That’s not so easy when the person in front of you is speaking in a monotone, and without any animation. Or maybe she’s repeating a story that you have heard before, either from that person, or from someone else, such as an old joke? Active listening skills exercises will help you to become a great listening – but only if you practise!
What makes a conversation great?
How do you feel when someone spoils your punchline or looks bored or disinterested when you’re talking? Hold on to that emotion!
Now think about when you last spoke with someone who was extremely interested in what you had to say. How great was that conversation? Do you see where I’m going with this?
I can assure you that because of that person’s intense listening skills, you were at your best, even though I wasn’t there! It’s almost as if that person’s listening skills created you into an interesting person. But you haven’t changed! You’re the same person you were before you spoke with that person.
Having great listening skills creates better interactions with people and they will start to engage with you.
What’s the secret to becoming a great listener?
How do you do that? Like I mentioned earlier – by emptying your mind and putting your full attention on the person you are interacting with. Not only with your ears, but with your whole being, hanging on to their every word, and listening not in order to retort, but in order to fully comprehend what they are describing.
Even the most boring conversation has the potential of being more interesting if you fully concentrate on it. If you change your mindset and mentally ‘switch on’ your active listening powers, you will improve your interaction and will have a better engagement with that person.
Active listening skills exercises
- Be aware that you are not listening – stop – and concentrate on the person who is doing the talking.
- Listen as if you would earn a huge amount of money if you could repeat the essence of the conversation, if required.
- Show the person that you are listening – this could be by asking clarifying questions, repeating back key points, nodding your head, saying ‘ah-ha’ type noises, but in a natural way. This will come naturally to you if you are truly listening.
How does this related to sales?
Well, imagine you are about to make a sales call and you want to discover the client’s pain points, so you can better understand how your product will benefit your client. What if you brought your new-found listening skills to the table? How would that level of listening and engagement help you, and your would-be client? How would your chances of making the sale improve?
Try your new listening skills at every opportunity, and especially when challenged. The more you engage, the more it will become second-nature.
Contact us to see how we can help you, your executive management and sales teams to improve their relationships and hence, your company’s results.
Active listening skills exercises are a practical part of several of our business workshops. Contact us to see how our business workshops can improve your company results.
Lesley Anne Rubenstein-Pessok, MD of LAR Consultancy Ltd, has spent her whole career in executive roles, working with and training start-ups and SME businesses, helping them to become more efficient, increase turnover, improve profitability, cost effectiveness and create strategies that pay off. She is an approved mentor for the London and Partners Business Growth Programme, as well as for other public funded programmes. Her client testimonials say it all.