Sunday morning I watched a news program which featured a segment on how desensitized the human race has become to noise. There is so much noise in our society that as a means of survival we’ve learned to tune it out. Personally, when I’m focused at work people can talk all around me and to me and I don’t hear a thing. Guess it comes from too many days working in a noisy television newsroom.
Added to the general increase in volume from societal noise, everyone has cell phones and other mobile devices now. So we’ve all developed the dubious art of multi-tasking. Whether in a meeting, attending a seminar, dining out with friends, or enjoying an evening at the theatre, many of us are busy texting and emailing instead of actively listening. Think about it the next time you are at a business lunch or in a meeting. How many times do you glance at your emails? Ever excuse yourself to take a call?
When we were a society of hunters and gatherers our sharp listening skills were critical to our success. But today – we’ve lost the art of good listening.
For those of us who want to succeed in business, it’s time to hone our listening skills. Like our hunting and gathering ancestors, keen hearing can help us attract and retain new customers. Good listening is one of the most powerful skills you can utilize in business.
First, when you listen actively to your customers, you learn more about what their needs are and how you can service those needs. So think about listening as a profit-generating tool.
By focusing on your customer, you may be able to identify an issue before it becomes a problem. Subtle mentions of a seemingly minor problem may alert you to an underlying concern. By addressing that concern early, you can often turn the situation around, and as a result you may generate additional business opportunities.
Active listening often gives you the information you need to make a sale with a new customer. Instead of focusing on how great your product is and how much you know, slow down and ask open ended questions. Then listen closely to the responses. Your customer may tell you exactly what it takes to close the deal.
Finally, when you meet new people, ask them to tell you about themselves and their business. Quietly focus on the information they share and look for opportunities to connect and develop rapport. Remember, people like doing business with people they know and trust. If you are a good listener, you can build a relationship which may ultimately result in future business opportunities.