Are you a good listener? According to the International Listening Association, most think we are, but we are not. The average listening efficiency is about 26%. Ouch! We can improve!
Our definition of listening consists of four components:
- Acquiring information from others in an empathic and nonjudgmental way to understand their meaning.
- Questioning and restating to ensure understanding.
- Acknowledging the speaker inviting communication to continue.
- Providing limited, encouraging input and giving appropriate feedback.
Are you surprised by this definition? Many of us confuse hearing and listening. To hear means:
- to perceive sound with the ear.
- to sense audio energy with the ear.
- to receive information by the ear.
There is a big difference between listening and hearing, and successful salespeople master the art of listening. Effective listeners learn about others and their needs. They quickly build rapport and create a sense that they are trustworthy. Good listeners inspire confidence in others and recognize opportunities that move the sales process forward. They have fewer miscommunications with others. They make people feel important, and who doesn’t want to feel important?
Are you a good listener? Would you rate yourself higher or lower than 26% efficiency? Don’t know? Interrupting is the biggest giveaway that you are not listening. If you interrupt others, it is safe to say you can improve your listening skills. Interrupting reveals that you are focused on what you want to say, not what the other person is saying. You are not listening! And by the way, many of us interrupt in our heads. Your mind starts to wander, or you begin disagreeing in your head with the person speaking. Loss of attention is also interrupting! If you are an interrupter, the good news is you can start changing that right now to become a better listener. Here are some tips:
- Listen for the period, not the comma when someone is speaking.
- Get comfortable with silence. It is okay to have silence after someone speaks. Use this time to think about your response.
- In a virtual meeting, mute yourself. Unmute when you want to say something.
- On a phone call, use the mute button. Keep your finger on it and press when you want to talk.
- Keep your hand over your mouth as a reminder.
- Take notes
- Record yourself. Be aware of how often you interrupt.
You can mix up the letters in the word listen and create a new word: silent. Silence is how you become a better listener! Everyone you interact with will be better off when you become a better listener.
Join our next Listening workshop to become a better listener.