Monday, 31 March 2014

How Important is Active Listening for Success?

photo credit: stallio via photopin cc 

We all like to hear ourselves talk. It's one of those quirks of human nature. While this may sound harmless enough, it can be damaging your ability to succeed. Why? Because everyone you interact with wants to hear themselves talk as well!

The importance of active listening is one of those things we all give lip service to, but have a very difficult time putting into action. Yet if you don't work on this key skill, you will absolutely limit your ability to succeed.

In my day job I'm forced to implement this strategy all the time. I'm on the phones all day, and while it's tempting to interrupt the person on the other end of the line, I do my best to avoid the temptation. It doesn't matter if you are convinced they're mistaken, stop yourself, and listen to what they have to say.

Quite often the client on the other end of that line simply wants to vent. They may already realize there's little you can do to solve the current problem, but by letting them say their peace, you are putting them on notice that you truly believe what they have to say is important. Quite often that is enough to diffuse the situation.

By listening to your clients concerns you might also be able to develop a solution you hadn't thought of. Keep in mind, your customer will often be aware you can't provide an immediate resolution to their problem, but by listening you might arrive at a compromise that both of you can live with. At the very least, you will give your customer time to calm down.

At times, you will be confronted by a client that just isn't willing to listen to reason. You know the type, no matter how much you listen and address their concerns, nothing is good enough. A technique you may want to try in these situations is the good old hold button! Tell your client you need to consult with a colleague and you'll be right back to them.

At the very least they will think you're making every effort to address their concerns. You've gone to the well. You've exhausted every option to come up with a solution that they can live with. At the end of the day, it may still not be good enough. Sometimes it's best just to walk away, but more often that not, by employing these active listening techniques, you will succeed more often than you will fail.

Do you use active listening techniques in your business interactions? If your guilty of talking over people, start giving these techniques a try. Let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear from you.