In communication, we are taught great writing and speaking skills, for example, how to present ourselves when networking or presenting in front of a group, how to write articles or deliver an elevator pitch, and how to answer interview questions, but how much time is spent on teaching us how important it is to listen?
If we’re lucky, we may learn that in the workplace through professional development courses in communication, providing our employers provide that opportunity. If not, we’re left on our own to find that out the hard way, and sometimes it may cost us a high price of missed opportunities. How many of us invest in communication courses with our personal budget? Some of us do, but many don’t.
Effective salespeople have developed the best listening skills- this may only reflect 20% of salespeople, as most have been taught how to do a great presentation, which includes packaging their products, services and themselves at a high professional level.
Maximizing the effectiveness of oral business communication between salespeople and customers hinges on two fundamental communication process components, i.e. talking and listening. At the end of the day, it does not matter how well you articulate a message to a customer, if it is not effectively absorbed by your target audience, the probability of sales success is greatly reduced.
This goes for everyone else, parents and children, bosses and employees, colleagues and teams, and any dialogue or group discussions. Human beings think faster than we listen. While someone is talking at an average rate of 125 words a minute, the average listener is thinking at a much more rapid rate, and he/she is usually thinking about what he/she should or will say at the expense of losing the last part of the statement being spoken. Everyone knows when they are being heard or gotten, so let’s not ignore our attitude!
Remember to prepare ahead for any meeting or discussion, but when you’re in that meeting, here are a few things to remember:
• Be present – drop your agenda momentarily, and engage yourself and the other
• Focus on the other person – pay attention to what the message or story is
• Affirm or respond using your body language, especially eye contact and facial expressions
• Paraphrase to make sure you understand
• Ask questions to know whether you are getting the message or the story
• Be aware of your body messaging, not just your lips, as it’s revealing
It is of paramount importance for us to learn active listening at a young age, so that we can truly hear each other, pay respect to one another, and drop the judgement factor. Only then does building relationships and networking become enjoyable and effortless, as well having successful outcomes at meetings. This is a critical skill in communication, and to prepare our youth for the business world, it must be taught early in life!
As Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not practice makes perfect, it’s PERFECT practice makes perfect!”