You’re unlikely to say ‘no’, aren’t you?! Most of us are social animals and our lives revolve around relationships, whether the relationship is with our parents, children, spouse, colleagues, suppliers and, last but not least, our treasured clients.
There are many ways in which to improve your relationships; I’m going to give you just one tip! LISTEN! And it’s not as easy as you may at first think.
What does it take to really listen?
The short answer is ‘total focus’! To be a great listener, you cannot be distracted. But we’re all human and we’re easily distracted. This is especially true if the person you’re trying to listen to is speaking in a monotone, repeating a story that you have heard before, or talking about a subject unrelated to anything you believe will advance your burning agenda.
If you want to become a master at creating relationships with people around you, this would be a great time to practise your listening skills: – when you’re not interested in the conversation. The funny thing is, when you do switch on your ‘active listening’ skills, and become fully focused, the person in front of you tends to become more interesting because their energy levels increase when they know you’re listening. It’s like positive feedback – the energy just keeps increasing like magic!
The problem is – the opposite is also true!
Don’t think they don’t know you’re bored or disinterested when you stop listening or you’re looking over their shoulder to find someone more interesting, in your opinion, to talk to. We all do this at networking events. ‘Work the room, get lots of business cards, make lots of connections…’ That’s what we’re often told by the networking experts.
I stopped doing that a long time ago. When I go to a networking event, I give my full attention to a handful of people – and if I only speak with two or three, that’s fine! I’d rather have deep conversations with a handful of people, than trivial ones with most of the room.
People like to feel special
Think back to when you last spoke with someone who was extremely interested in what you had to say. How great was that conversation? How did it make you feel about yourself? How did it make you feel about that person? About the meeting itself? Good, right?
You will always be at your best when you speak to someone who is actively listening to what you have to say. You will feel appreciated. You will trust that person. And the opposite is true! You won’t have a great conversation or feel appreciated by people who aren’t listening to you. Your conversation will simply peter out and you will feel disrespected and frustrated.
What if you were that person. What of you were not listening to what your client was trying to communicate to you? What would be your chances of converting to a sale? I rest my case (but not for long – I love this topic!).
Here are the steps to active listening:
Be aware that you are not listening. Bring your concentration back, apologise if you need to, and concentrate on the person before you who is talking.
Actively listen, as if your whole life depended on it.
Show the person that you are listening – ask clarifying questions, repeat back salient points, nod your head, make ‘ah-ha’ type noises (in a natural way!). This will soon become second nature.
Try your new listening skills at every opportunity, and especially when challenged. The more you engage, the more it will become a habit. Your relationships will improve, as will your energy. Try it! What have you got to lose?!
Still not sure how? Attend our leadership or sales pitch business workshops where we implement listening exercises, amongst other powerful interactive exercises and content.
Need help with your sales team? What to improve your leadership skills? Contact us to see how we can help you and your team to improve relationships and hence, results.
Lesley Anne Rubenstein-Pessok, MD of LAR Consultancy Ltd, has spent her whole career in executive roles, working with and training start-ups and SME businesses, helping them to become more efficient, increase turnover, improve profitability, cost effectiveness and create strategies that pay off. Her client testimonials say it all.