Listening skills… “What was that?” I said… LISTENING SKILLS are a critical ingredient to any businessperson’s success. Listening is a soft skill that is hard to master.
Often when a person believes they are listening to another, they are actually listening to the sound of their own internal dialogue, and waiting for their own opportunity to speak next.
Listening is a learned skill. It takes work. Most people default to “non-listening” and “open listening”. In these engagement states the “words” are the key focus. They may appear to be listening, but they are just hearing and responding to the words that are being spoken.
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As we all know, words count for only a small part of how we influence people. Most influential is our physiology and tonality. When you understand this and also look for the silent undercurrent, that is to say the “emotions” behind the words, you start to get a clearer sense for what is really being said. You start to really listen and connect.
“Active listening” requires some skill and awareness by guiding the conversation and asking probing and clarifying questions. You’re actively engaged in the conversation.
The art of “heart listening” transcends active listening to a higher level where not only are you hearing and guiding the conversation, but a total focus on the other person allows you to gain awareness of their energy, emotions and attitudes. You also tap into the underlying tone or impact of the conversation, and where it is taking you and the other person. You’re looking for and connecting with their emotions.
Heart listening allows you to more accurately assess and gently guide the conversation and genuinely connect with the other person. It is at this depth of listening that your intuition will be most available to you and will provide you with the most possible amount of information about the “heart” of the issue for your customer and the underlying goals and aspirations.
Once you have identified the emotions that your customer is feeling, acknowledging those emotions demonstrates to the customer that you have empathy for them. The buying process is largely driven by emotions, so acknowledgement of these emotions is the key!
Tips to harness the art of heart listening:
- Always make eye contact, don’t just stare, be aware and truly connect.
- Slow things down, breath; be conscious of your own energy state first.
- Pause before responding; don’t cut the other person off midway or late into their sentence.
- Resist the temptation to divert the conversation back to you and your story.
- Probe and ask clarifying questions to draw out their higher goals and aspirations.
- Drill deeper with masterful questions that engage the other person on a deeper level.
- Align their body language and tonality to what is being said.
- Paraphrase and emphasise the emotions they are conveying to you.
- Connect the emotions to their higher goals and aspirations.
Slowing things down where possible, going deeper and really being present in each conversation is not only a more pleasurable and thoughtful way to engage people, it also demonstrates something much more powerful: you care about how the other person feels. This is the first step in being a person of influence and truly masterful salesperson.
Trent Leyshan is the founder and CEO of BOOM Sales! a leading sales training and sales development specialist. He is also the creator of The NAKED Salesman, BOOMOLOGY! RetroService, and the Empathy Selling Process.