Have you ever had someone say to you, “Please let me finish,” or “You’re not listening to what I am telling you?”
These are all cries for attention. Most people, in the heat of an exchange with others, do not recognize it, or worse, acknowledge it. The people who really make me take note of their wisdom and cleverness are mostly people who get me to babble about myself, my experiences and things that make me feel warm and fuzzy. Because someone is WILLING TO LISTEN, I get a chance to remember and share these experiences that make me feel good.
When I was a kid, I loved to talk; I think for the sake of talking. I still meet a lot of adults who act the same way as I did when I was younger. Talking about things that are on your mind or bothering you is great therapy. There is nothing wrong with it. The problem occurs when two parties are in an exchange and neither is willing to concede the time and allow the other to have an adequate time to present his idea, argument or counter point and to just feel important enough to participate in a conversation. If this ever occurs to you with a specific individual, sooner or later you will not be interested in their company or gravitate toward their counsel or advice because they simply do not let you vent or get what you need to get off your chest. It is not a comforting feeling. They leave you feeling more frustrated and worse than before.
Introduction to the Art of Listening
The first time I heard about the art of listening was from my father, God bless his soul. My dad must have told me this story more than 20 times. I think he was trying to make a point. The story goes something like this: A man at a local coffee shop meets another man for the first time. After a brief “ice breaking conversation,” they start talking. One seems to have a lot on his mind – the wife, work, his mom, the children, etc. The other is smiling and nodding but not saying much, just listening. The first encounter between the two ends. One has talked nonstop for hours and the other has hardly said a word. Nevertheless, they exchanged coordinates and arranged to meet again. The man who talked nonstop feels elated as if a load has been lifted off his chest. Leaving the coffee shop, he can’t help but think about how pleasant this guy was. The two guys continue to meet on a regular basis. The talkative one continues to hog the conversation but starts to become more interested in finding out a little about this very reserved man who hardly talks. By now, the talker refers to the non-talker as his good friend. Within a few months, the talker is referring to the non-talker as his best friend in the whole world. The moral of the story is: If you are a good listener, people will appreciate you, enjoy your company and think the world of you.
Employing the Art of Listening
To effectively be a good listener, you must be genuine and truthful, ask the person a question and then let them tell you what they need to tell you. If they start rambling or seem completely hopeless (talking for the sake of talking), be gentle and bring them back to the subject at hand. If you can’t spend too much time with someone who loves to talk, tell them up front so they are not disappointed or feel that you are brushing them off.
Networking and the Art of Listening: The Key to Your Next Sale
In networking, after the introduction and exchange of customary pleasantries, you must ask your prospects/contacts the right questions such as: How is business? What do you think about this economy? What is working for you?
The next step is to explain a bit about your business and how it could be of benefit to your prospect and or his clients. This should be only done once the prospect is ready to listen and willing to reciprocate. The last question would be: “Do you know of anyone who could benefit from meeting me or networking with me?” Give them some time to think about this. Otherwise, they will respond with: “Nobody comes to mind,” or “Let me think about it and I will get back to you.” It would also be nice to reciprocate by sharing your contacts.
Most Networking Gurus advise you to proceed by giving value first (referrals, contacts, etc.). Then, maybe the prospect will feel obligated to reciprocate. This eventually leads to increased sales…and it all starts with being a good listener.
If you would like to meet to talk sometime, I welcome you to contact me at 214-277-2806 (office/cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.