Active listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communication. In this four-part series, FRONTLINE Selling CMO, Cherie Stowe, delves into what it takes to hone this invaluable life skill to become better at sales conversations and communicating in general.
What is active listening? Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. It’s a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, it can be challenging to master. It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, but once you learn and become adept at active listening, it becomes second nature. Your conversations will become more meaningful and you will begin to see more positive results in your interactions with others.
Below are four fundamentals of active listening:
- Learn to ask questions – Reflect and paraphrase to ensure you understand the speaker’s message. If you don’t, you will find that what someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different.
- Remain neutral – Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental. Try not to take sides or form opinions, especially early on in the conversation.
- Patience is a virtue – Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there is a few seconds of silence. Pauses and short silences should be accepted. Many times the speaker will take a brief moment to gather his or her thoughts before continuing.
- Never interrupt – NEVER. It’s a sign of disrespect and will only disrupt the natural flow of the conversation, lessening the chances of a positive outcome. You are essentially telling the speaker that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.
Sound easy? Think again. Active listening is not something that comes naturally. It’s a disciplined process in which a conscious decision is made to truly listen in order to understand the messages of the speaker. Mastering it will open up doors and help you achieve your sales goals.
For more information on active listening and achieving your sales goals, contact FRONTLINE Selling today. And stay tuned for the second part of our series: Reflecting Content, Feeling and Meaning.
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