No, you weren’t listening.
“Our people need to listen better.”
No, your people need to understand WHY they don’t listen.
REALITY: You quit paying attention for one reason or another, AND blame it on the person talking to you. Two rudes don’t make a right.
How do you listen? That’s both a question and an enigma. Listening is one of the BIG THREE in selling, the other two are asking (engaging), and being friendly.
If you ask most salespeople, they would admit that listening is their weakest quality. In part due to impatience, but mostly because they don’t know how. Or even deeper, they don’t know the components or factors that make up the “why” of listening.
To complicate the listening process even further, there are manners in which people listen — no, not “please pass the salt” manners — attitude and mood manners. These manners can affect the listening competence level by more than half.
There are 3.5 opposite sets of manners of listening:
1. Active or passive.
2. Positive or negative.
3. Open or closed.
3.5 Distracted by other business or personal matters, or not distracted.
You can almost get the feeling and meaning of these manners without me explaining them.
Listening is also broken down into elements. Each representing a “why.” I have added some additional description to clarify each element. And defined a few.
The good elements of listening are:
Listen with the intent to understand. A sermon. A movie. In a classroom.
Listen with the intent to take action. Someone giving instructions.
Listen with the intent to learn. A teacher. A trainer. A seminar leader.
Listen with the intent to enjoy. Music. Sounds of nature. Waterfalls. A crackling fire.
Listen with the intent to remember. Driving directions. A website address. A phone number.
WHO you’re listening to can have a huge impact on the quality of your listening. Your mother, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your best friend, your favorite celebrity, someone you like, or someone you dislike, can affect the outcome of your listening ability. It’s their words, your mood, and your level of respect, that make up the listening effectiveness model.
The bad elements of listening are:
Listen with the intent to respond. This is where interruptions occur. You have something to say, or think you already know the answer. You start responding BEFORE the other person has finished talking. The first “listen” should be: listen with the intent to understand. THEN you can respond with the full knowledge of what has been communicated. CURE: Just ask the person if they have finished their thought BEFORE you respond.
Listen with the intent to figure out an angle (manipulate). Interacting with a customer during a selling situation.
Listen because you have to obey (or try to worm out of it). Parents, teachers, and bosses top the list.
Listen because you are forced to. Your boss, teacher, or parents yelling or disciplining you.
Listen with the intent not to pay attention. Tuned off because of your unhappiness or ill feeling towards the person speaking.
Listen with the intent to argue. Whenever you’re in an argument or fight, listening is overpowered by anger and negativity.
There is also the ever popular, pretending to listen, but in another world. You have other things on your mind that are more powerful than what is being said, so you tune out whoever is speaking.
Telltale signs of not listening? Asking people to repeat. Getting instructions wrong. Making mistakes on the job. Getting rejected.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Now everybody listen-up, this is important.” What does that mean? It means that without that preface to whatever is being said next, the odds are that very few, if any, are paying attention to the person speaking.
Think about it, does Bill Gates walk into the room and say, “OK everybody listen-up?” Billy Graham? Steven Jobs? Madonna? Michael Jordan? Ted Turner? No, they walk into a room and everyone says, “SShhhhhhhh, it’s……..” A hush falls over the room like a magic spell, and everyone in the room is “all ears.”
The three best states to be in when listening are: the state of calm, the state of happy, and the state of willing. These are “ear opening” states. (The worst listening states are the state of New Jersey and the state of New York. Many people there already know everything.)
FINAL SECRET: I know all of you are looking for the silver bullet that will make you an instant better listener. I’ve got it for you. Two words, and they’re not “shut-up.” The secret words and action of listening are: “take notes.” When you take notes, you show respect, always “hear,” and have a reference to help you remember what was said or promised.
Editor’s note: Jeffrey Gitomer is on sabbatical. This column originally appeared in the January 21, 2016, Business Journal.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 books. His real-world ideas and content also are available as online courses at gitomerlearningacademy.com. For information about training and seminars, visit gitomer.com or gitomercertifiedadvisors.com, or email Jeffrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.