Whether you are a salesperson, manager, boss, co-worker, parent, or friend; at one time or another you’ll need to persuade someone to do something. Some people believe that you need to use the spoken word to convince people to see it your way. While the spoken word and the logic of your argument are important, effective and active listening is one of the highest forms of persuasion. By being an exceptionally good listener, people will gain confidence and trust in you. Most people have a deep desire to be understood. When you connect with people at that level, you develop a strong relationship with them that’s hard to beat.
Here are 7 Secrets to Becoming a Great Listener.
Be Prepared. Before having that face to face meeting or dialing the telephone, prepare yourself mentally and physically. Clear your mind of everything except the purpose of your interaction. Get comfortable, take a few deep breaths and just relax. Come prepared with thoughtful and meaningful questions that will aid you in understanding where the other person is coming from or what their needs are.
Don’t Assume. Come to the interaction with an open mind. Ask open-ended questions to gain clarity. Ask your questions in the spirit of genuine curiosity. This isn’t an interrogation or an attempt to box someone into a corner.
Listen to Understand. Don’t worry about what you should say next. If you do, you may hear what they say but won’t hear or understand what is meant. Paraphrase what you heard to check your understanding and to encourage a further response or clarification. It is often this second explanation that is most revealing.
Take Notes. Ask permission to jot down some notes while they speak. It will show your genuine interest in them and will help you keep your undivided attention on the other person.
Get into Alignment. One study concluded that most communication occurs non-verbally. It breaks down as follows: 7% Verbal, 38% Tone of Voice, and 55% Body Language. Make sure that your words, actions, and body language are all saying the same thing.
Look Them in the Eye. Making eye contact shows them that they have your undivided attention. Said another way, it’s virtually impossible to totally hear what the other person is saying unless you maintain eye contact with them. Direct eye contact keeps you focused. Use your eyes to help you to communicate non-verbally.
Keep your Cool. Listen non-defensively. Avoid being negative or argumentative. Navigate with curiosity and ask open-ended opinion questions to gain clarity.
Active listening is a skill like any other. To get better, you need to first have the desire to improve and then you’ll need to practice. Use the 7 Secrets to Becoming a Great Listener as a checklist after each interaction. Score yourself on each Secret on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is low and 10 is high. Track your progress overtime and you’ll be impressed by how much you can improve.
Good luck on your journey to success.