We hear lots these days about social listening – it’s a buzz word, if you like. But why is listening so important?
It is not simply a case of “you speak, I listen”. Being a brilliant listener means understanding what you’re listening to and interpreting the true significance of what’s being said. As Hemingway once said – “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen”.
Listening with full attention
Elite-level listeners listen with heightened awareness. They listen to uncover facts, emotions, motivators, values, beliefs and emotional currency. These clues in turn enable them to persuade, influence, problem solve and sell solutions.
The truth is if you stop talking and start listening, the person you are listening to cannot help but give themselves away. They want to talk, to tell you what’s bothering them. Get someone talking, start listening with your full attention, and you will be armed with all the information you need to build a relationship or close a deal.
By all means prompt and encourage, but stop asking questions and stay on their agenda.
If you really must question then…
Ask indirect questions only. Indirect questions are the most powerful.
Don’t impose your agenda, just suspend it. Let people tell you about how they like to work, their values and goals. That way you’ll be in the best possible position to reflect these values and beliefs back to them, and act in a way that’s not only desirable to them, but ultimately achieves your own outcome.
Challenge conventional wisdom
Listening with fresh ears and an open mind means we need to strip away unhelpful inherited wisdom
- Trust is earned – Trust is actually a given. As human beings we are programmed to automatically have trust. Trust is not something you win, but it is something that can be lost quickly
- Knowledge is power – Knowledge is not power. It’s the application of knowledge that is power
- Listening is passive – Listening is active, if you are listening with your full attention
- To get answers you must ask questions – Asking questions keeps the conversation on your agenda, and can lead to the wrong conclusions. It also gives your intentions away and can limit your research.
- Empathy wins business – Don’t give advice based on ‘empathy’. Instead reflect your companion’s values and beliefs. That way, you’ll help them reach a solution that works for them.
Richard Mullender – Learning from a hostage negotiator
About this post…
This article is a guest post by Richard Mullender, based on his Keynote session at Connections 16. Hosted by Artesian, Connections is a half-day event designed for B2B sales and marketing leaders. Information-rich, provocative and entertaining, Connections draws senior executives from Fortune and FTSE 500 companies to share ideas, best practice, and shape the future of customer engagement. The theme of Connections 16 was the psychology of the sale, with Keynote sessions from Alistair Campbell, Dr Brian Marien and Richard Mullender.