Listening is different from hearing.
Hearing involves your ears only. But listening will directly impact your potential for closing sales and finding new prosperity partners for your business.
Your ability to listen effectively will have an influence on your capability to develop relationships, effective questioning and information gathering…
…as well as your potential for developing rapport and gaining your audience’s attention.
It’s likely you’ve never learned how to listen effectively. The good news is that you can become a great listener starting today!
Most people spend their listening time pretending to pay attention. In other words, you may listen to the first half of what someone says…
BUT… you are really focused on what you will be saying next. You may even begin to talk and literally forget that you are supposed to be listening.
Now, you might be one of the people who really does try to listen…
BUT you’re not you’re not actively participating in learning more about the speaker by listening intently. You’re using a logical listening method that attempts to make sense of the words.
When you are at the level of effective listening… you will give the speaker your full, undivided attention.
This is called active listening. It means listening not just for the words, but for the meaning behind the words. By developing your listening skills… you will see an immense improvement in your sales and entrepreneurial efforts.
Active listening begins with you giving encouraging body signals and expressions and by asking questions. You can and should control the listening process. Only one-third of the speaker’s meaning is actually conveyed by words. Two-thirds are conveyed by body language and emotional tone.
Becoming A Better Listener
Becoming a good listener requires practice, patience, and a genuine interest in other people. Here are several suggestions you may use in order to improve your listening skills:
- Make the speaker feel comfortable and important. Be courteous and respectful.
- Show your attentiveness to the speaker by nodding your head or saying “Yes” or “I see” from time to time.
- Listen to what is not said. Pay attention to the 80 percent of the conversation that is nonverbal. Learn to listen between the lines. By doing this, you will be in a position to really hear beyond what is being said to what is meant.
- Listening between the lines will assist you in detecting when your potential customer is being evasive or dishonest with you. You deserve to know the truth, even at the risk of seeming a little pushy. By honing your listening skills, you will be able to catch anything in your speaker’s voice, attitude, or body language that would indicate a lack of real interest or enthusiasm for what you are offering.
I have found that many of my clients are unwilling to listen for the truth when they hear it. In many cases, they simply hope that what they are hearing is different from what it sounds like.
In other words… the prospect is saying through their body language or tone of voice that they have no interest in the opportunity or products being offered. Often, my clients miss this “not interested” message completely because they either didn’t want to hear it or really didn’t hear it because they were too focused on what they were going to say next.
Understanding listening filters can improve your effectiveness greatly. As people listen, they filter what they hear through their own mind and experiences.
If you are not careful, this can significantly distort what you hear. As a result, what you hear may not be what the speaker said or meant.
Suppose you believe that only women can be organized. So if the speaker says, “He was very organized and efficient,” you may hear, “She was very organized.” This is because you weren’t listening carefully, and in your mind the second statement is the closest to one that makes any sense to you.
I’m going to outline some of the listening filters you should be aware of. In each situation, any one of these filters can distort what you or the other person hears and understands.
- Strong Feelings
- Past Experiences
Now that you are aware of and able to recognize listening filters that may cause you to not listen fully, let’s talk a moment about the barriers that can reduce your listening effectiveness.
Improve your listening right now by removing any of these barriers:
- External distractions, such as noise, movements, or the speaker’s mannerisms may be a diversion to you.
- Daydreaming (your mind wanders)
- Physical exhaustion (inability to pay attention)
- Internal distractions (preoccupation, stress)
- Being self-conscious
- Paying attention to only the things that interest you
- Lack of trust or respect for the speaker
- Not listening to nonverbal language of speaker
- Taking too many notes, so that you miss much of the speaker’s information because you are focused on your note-taking
Reflective and Paraphrase Listening
Reflective and paraphrase listening are two techniques which will assist you to reinforce to your audience so that you are, in fact, listening to them and are aware of their concerns and point of view. Reflective listening is merely repeating some words your partners or customers use as they speak.
Your prospect may say, “I was involved in free enterprise before, and I received no support from my mentor.” You respond, “No mentor support, huh?” and leave it at that. Then, allow your prospect to continue speaking.
Reflective listening builds rapport in three ways: It shows that you are paying attention and that you understand what your prospect is telling you. It is a great strategy to keep your prospect talking long enough for you to evaluate whether they are serious or merely curious. And it’s a great way to keep developing rapport while you wait to get down to the real issues.
BUT… I don’t recommend that you spend a long time listening to each prospect’s complaints about past products, companies, or services.
Paying attention and listening is a good investment of a few minutes of your time in the preliminary interviewing stages. It is better to listen and find out right away they are not interested than to find this out after you have invested a lot of time in a lengthy presentation.
Paraphrase listening works on a similar principle, except that you paraphrase what your client has just said. For example, if your client says, “I’ve spent a lot of money over the years in other ventures.” You would say, “Yes, becoming a successful entrepreneur has a price.”
Be sure to use both active and reflective listening to enhance rapport and keep yourself on your toes. It will assist you to keep your client talking until you are ready to make a decision about whether they are serious or merely curious about your opportunity and products.
I teach my clients how to interview people to see if they are the type of person they would like to work with.
The Interview Process
Many people confuse “interview” with “interrogate.”
By practicing the shared listening technique, you will find that all of your questions get answered without the other person feeling as though you have them under a microscope. Shared listening allows you to turn the questioning process into a conversation.
Here’s how it works:
I might ask my client, “So, Bob, what do you do for a living now?” and he may say that he is a teacher. I would then say, “No kidding? Both my parents are teachers. How long have you been a teacher, Bob?” Bob responds by saying, “Twenty years—where do your folks live?” I would say, “They live in Iowa. Wow! You’ve been a teacher for twenty years…. Why are you considering an entrepreneurial endeavor, Bob?”
Developing a conversation, rather than asking one question right after another, is a great way to get a person to open up.
Other people are more comfortable revealing information about themselves if they feel you have something in common. It also makes them understand that you are a real person and not a robot simply asking questions.
Listen closely and make brief notes for yourself. By interviewing in this fashion, you will soon discover their motivation or lack thereof, as well as their hot buttons, which you can repeat back to them when it’s time to ask for the decision or close the sale.
It’s not only important to listen at the beginning of your interview… It is equally important to continue the listening process even after you have closed your sale with your new partner or client.
Much of my success as an entrepreneur, trainer, and success coach has been achieved because of my willingness to listen. It astounds people that I’m able to recall names, places, and other pertinent information with little or no effort.
I’m able to recall this information because when it was being given out initially, I paid attention!
Once again, I listened!