Active listening skills are among the most important attributes any business person who deals with the public can have. Sales people, customer service representatives and consultants are among those who will benefit most from such skills. This is because they deal directly with clients on a daily basis.
But active listening skills are also essential in other aspects of business. They come in handy when communicating with employees or managers or in negotiating sessions. Below we give you some tips on how to improve your active listening skills. This will go a long way in helping you to discover how being an active listener can boost your work performance and improve relationships.
What Are Active Listening Skills?
To be an active listener means that you listen carefully and thoroughly to people with whom you are communicating. In addition to gaining a clear understanding of each word they use, you also should ensure that you fully understand the complete message they are conveying. Active listening also means that, through your body language, you should indicate to the person talking to you that you are indeed listening intently to them. Actions such as glancing down at your phone to check your email clearly indicate you are failing to pay close attention.
On the telephone, too, you should occasionally comment on what the person says to make sure you understand them. This way they know you are hearing and understanding what they are saying. Furthermore, active listening includes remembering what you are told. If you are not committing it to memory, the whole point of it is lost.
Who Needs Active Listening Skills?
Anyone who values the importance of understanding and learning from what they are being told and the quality of their relationships with others will find active listening skills can benefit them in numerous ways. Active listening saves time that would otherwise be wasted on performing unnecessary or incorrect tasks. This may happen because the person’s requests were not clearly understood. So it enables the listener to acquire important information and learn significant lessons.
In the world of business, the results of using active listening skills can be highly beneficial.
- Instructions are clearly understood;
- Requests become clearer;
- The purpose of a service is understood so much better. It is, therefore, implemented more efficiently and effectively;
- Confusion over a job that needs to be done is avoided.
Active listening also clears up misunderstandings that can lead to conflict, thereby improving business relationships.
Ways in Which Active Listening Can Help Your Business
Here are some ways in which your business can benefit from active listening skills:
- To understand exactly what the customer wants: By listening carefully, you can avoid confusion over the exact terms of the service that you will provide, as well as when and how you will provide it. In this way, conflict can be avoided. So you prevent situations in which the client complains that the service was inadequate or incorrect.
- To obtain feedback on services or products: When a customer complains, by listening carefully you can discover ways in which the service or products can be improved.
- To learn a customer’s motivation in buying a product or service: The customer’s motive in buying from you might be to obtain an affordable price, it might be to obtain the best quality, or perhaps trust in you and your company. Careful listening ascertains which it is.
- To ascertain whether a client has interpreted your approach correctly: Careful attention to what a client says will indicate whether the client has understood you. It also shows whether you have explained your approach well.
6 Tips on How to Hone Your Active Listening Skills
Active listening skills can be gained. An understanding of these skills can help you interact more effectively with clients, suppliers and collaborators. The result will be a boost to your productivity and an increased ability to negotiate and win over others. Follow these suggestions to improve your active listening skills.
1. Avoid Trying to Think of What You Should Say Next
Do this especially while you are listening to a person who is speaking. Many business people are thinking less about what the person says than about their own response. They are more concerned about getting across information on what they are trying to sell than they are on listening carefully to what the other person is saying. You should avoid doing so and pay close attention to the client.
2. Go Over What They Say in Your Mind
As the client speaks, in your mind try summarizing what they say. In this way, you will be forced to concentrate on their words and the meaning that they are trying to convey.
3. Repeat Aloud What They Say to Make Sure You Are Both on the Same Page
Your repetition can be in the form of a question, such as So we are set for delivery tomorrow? It could also be in the form of a comment, such as I find it surprising that you did not receive any products at all. Their reaction will help you determine whether you heard correctly.
4. Ask Questions
You can ask especially if something does not sound right or you feel that an important point has been omitted. Maybe the client is trying to send a different message that he/she is actually sending. Make sure that you have all of your questions answered.
5. Maintain Eye Contact
Looking into someone’s eyes helps you concentrate on what they are saying. It also confirms to them them that you are indeed listening. On the telephone, keep reassuring the person that you are paying close attention to what they are saying.
6. Avoid Looking Away or Doing Something Else
Don’t check your watch or phone, while you are listening to a person talking. Not only can it be construed as rude, it will take your mind off what they are telling you.
Honing your active listening skills will pay significant dividends in your business in the form of:
- An increased understanding of clients’ needs;
- Avoiding misunderstanding
- Improving relationships with clients as well as with staff.
In negotiations, active listening skills are essential when attempting to reach compromise. Remember, too, that people will consider you friendlier and more knowledgeable if you simply listen intently to what they say.
Do you have any tips on active listening skills that you would like to pass on? Let us know.
The images are from depositphotos.com.