Solid listening goes hand in hand with asking powerful questions. I don’t mean “listen” as in taking in sounds and passively processing them, we must LISTEN with all we’ve got. This is a basic but sometimes challenging principle to consistently put into practice. It means that, for the duration of our contact, we step outside of ourselves – our own needs, our every preconception – and attend entirely to someone else.
Everyone has a need to talk and be heard. Listening helps us treat others as if they were the most important people on the planet because – in their minds – they are. Many professionals forget to involve the prospect and drone on about how great their ideas or their company is, forgetting to ask probing questions and listening for ways to show how they can be progress for the other person.
Sometimes our motivation to actively listen is not all that high. We think we can get by without really focusing. This is a huge mistake. The ability to understand and value what others say is critical. So be determined to focus on and understand completely what others are trying to communicate. It is close to impossible to uncover someone’s parameters of progress when you’re preoccupied with previous conversations, unfinished tasks, or the impression you’re making. Good listeners absorb and reflect on what they hear. They are active in the listening process. This requires energy and motivation, because listening is more than just hearing. We must become active listeners rather than passive hearers.
Repeating back (as questions or tentative statements) what you think you’ve heard the other person say helps avoid mind-misreading errors. Good clarifying questions offer the person a chance to rephrase their thoughts and say precisely what they mean.
Contributed by: Dean Lindsay, Award Winning Speaker and Author of The Progress Challenge & Co-Author of Stepping Stones to Success