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The Art of Conversation–The How-To List

Conversation is an art.   Not talking.   Talking is a verb.  Mastering the art of conversation is a common skill among successful people.  Have you ever wondered how some people can engage total strangers in conversation?   How about the man at the office who knows a little bit about every topic under the sun?   Certainly enough to carry on an intelligent conversation… without being a “know-it-all!”

“It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much.”   Yogi Berra

Have you noticed the person with whom it seems everyone wants to talk to at a meeting or party?   That person is either VERY FAMOUS or simply a good conversationalist.  People simply enjoy engaging in conversation with them.

Here are 7 Success Habits for Mastering the Art of Conversation:

The Importance of Building Trust

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

– Lao Tzu

Trust is the foundation of all great relationships, whether personal or professional.  Many people have a keen awareness of how another person feels, so if your words, actions, or energy says that you don’t trust them, it is likely they will not trust you.

There are effective ways to build trust into your relationships.  This starts with YOU!

How Are Your Listening Skills?

National Business Etiquette Week

Good listening skills are a very important social and professional skill.  As we discussed earlier, career success many times hinges on professional etiquette and poise.  One skill that can NEVER be over-rated is the art of listening.

Listening is truly an art.  And a “science”.  And just good plain business-sense!

Some tips for better and more effective listening skills…

Collaboration…What’s that?

Sometimes the word “collaboration” brings up negative connotations.  Many times the negative connotations come from opposing sides of the perceptions people have of the word itself.  Some people will bristle at the word because they think it means to give in or compromise (passivity.) The reverse thinking gives rise to negative connotations when yet others perceive collaboration to mean “aggressively forcing people to agreement” (aggression.)

In actuality, neither perception is correct.  True collaboration is neither passive nor aggressive.  When done well and for the right reasons, collaboration is a skill necessary for effective communication in all realms, whether in a personal relationship, inside the C-Suite, or in the call center.  Collaboration is the perfect balancing tool for effective leadership.

Three Reasons They Don’t Buy or Buy-In

Whether you are in sales, managing a project or leading a group of people, there are three reasons why people don’t buy what you’re selling or offering. When you look at these reasons, it is obvious and simple regarding what it will take to get them to buy from you.

Okay, let’s look at the three reasons people don’t buy what you’re selling or offering:

  1. They Don’t Want it – They simply don’t want what you have to offer at that moment in time. It’s not personal, they are just not buying in because it is not important to them.
  2. They Don’t Have the Money or Investment in Time and Effort – They simply can’t afford to invest in your offering – be it a sale or a project. In many cases, it is the lack of available time to devote to entering a new project or direction.
  3. They Don’t Believe You – Now this is the tough one. When people don’t believe you, it shows a total lack of trust. This is the toughest issue to deal with since it feels personal rather than an objective feeling or truth.

So how do you deal with the three reasons listed above? Let’s take each one in more detail:

Involvement equals commitment

Today’s tip is for sales people and leaders. It’s a simple concept that works its magic with no pain or ill feelings. It’s all about focusing on the other person. Here how it works.

Ask a question of a customer or employee, listen to the response and then ask another question for clarity on the topic answer. You use a simple phrase:

“Help me understand…(fill in the blank based upon the previous answer).”

This three little words will open up the flood gates of information flow. Your responsibility is to continue to listen to the flow of information and possibly new ideas. There are three things you need to do:

  1. Listen with an open mind. This is not the time to argue a point or detail. It’s time to listen and acknowledge the other person.
  2. Continue to ask questions when you are uncertain of the direction or flow of information – especially to gain clarity regarding a point. A major opportunity for sales people is to learn more about the impact of problems, especially the problems that you or your company can fix.
  3. Assuming you understand the definition of general or specific words or terms can be a fatal mistake. Here’s a new flash – your definition of a word or term could be materially different from the customer or employee! The only way to know for sure what they mean is to ask a question looking for meaning. A simple yet mostly overlooked method for gaining understanding about your customer or employee.

Asking questions and listening to the complete answers, then asking follow-up questions without bias or assumptions facilitates real understanding. And, a greater benefit of these methods is the customer or employee becomes committed to helping you – because they feel respected.

To learn more tips for sales or leadership, contact us at InnerActive Consulting Group – 901-757-4434. We look forward to hearing from you.

Listening is Key Factor to Higher Job Satisfaction

Several years ago I learned an important point about one of the major causes of higher productivity and job performance. It is very simple, yet, seemingly difficult for many to master. Here is the key: Listen. Yes, listen to your staff and employees when they talk. Even encourage they to talk and share their opinions about important issues.

Here the explanation: Research regarding direct relationships between job performance and employee job satisfaction was performed by a group of researchers. They found that employees who felt that they could present their ideas to management without any negative consequences were more motivated to perform well for the company. Further examination of this concept found that even if no action was taken on an employee’s suggestions. comments or ideas – it did not matter – job satisfaction was higher.

So, the more employees and staff feel they can share their opinions, ideas, comments or suggestions with their managers, the higher their job satisfaction ranking. And, the research showed that the higher job satisfaction was the only direct relation to higher job performance. Higher wages or salary, working conditions, or benefits – did not have a direct relationship to job satisfaction and job performance.

Therefore, as a leader or manager of an organization, you must find the time to listen to your employees. Their ideas, comments, suggestions and opinions matter – particularly to job performance. If you are looking for higher job performance with an emotional buy-in factor – then listen more. Seek out comments and ideas. You will be surprised by the quality of the information provided as well as the higher effort from your team.

Are You Listening? It’s a Core Skill.

Listening a core skill. Do you listen to people? More importantly, do you really hear what they are saying?

My experience says that most people are not really listening to what is being said without some type of filter system. Yes, a filter system is what I said. There are four types of filter systems being used by individuals as part of their natural behavioral style.

The four filtering systems are:

Becoming a Sales Superstar – Step 6 – Listening

Closely related to the Questioning skill is the ability to actively listen to everything being said and also what is not being openly said. The key for the sales person is to focus on the customer when the customer is talking and particularly when answering questions presented by the sales person. The number one flaw with aggressive sales people is they are too busy thinking about what they will say next, mentally rehearsing the script plan or just plain thinking about other things unrelated to moment.

Sales Superstars take the proactive listening skill to the next level – giving them a competitive advantage and greater trust with their customers. There are several reasons to improve our listening skills: