Expert Tips to Communicate Effectively
By Jonathan Farrington
Active listening is a powerful way of listening and responding to customers, that improves mutual understanding. It is the foundation of effective communication and demonstrates real respect.
According to Nancy Kline, author of the book “Time to Think,” when you are listening to someone, much of the quality of what you are hearing is your effect on them.
Giving good attention to people makes them more intelligent. Poor attention makes them stumble over their words and seem stupid. Your attention and your listening is what is important. When we are in conflict, we can sometimes contradict the customer, denying their description of a situation. This tends to make them defensive and they will either lash out or alternatively, withdraw and say nothing more.
However, if they believe that we are really tuned in to their concerns and want to listen, they are more likely to explain in detail what they feel and why. This in turn gives sales people a much greater chance of being able to develop a win-win solution.
Your role in the sales situation alternates between sender and receiver of messages. The very best sales professionals devote a large portion of the sales interview to listening, because sincere listening demonstrates sincere interest. Ultimately, good listening is the shortest distance between you and more sales; better sales, faster sales.
How often has a customer said something that has been misinterpreted by you? If you accept the view that everyone is unique, then every word has a different meaning to different individuals? What we say can be different to what we actually mean, because we all have to edit our thoughts in order to communicate them in words. We do this by a combination of deletion, distortion and generalization
Communication involves four steps:
- Sensing the message and the stimuli that goes with it
- Interpreting it (to be sure you understand)
- Evaluating it (never judge before you understand)
- Reacting (either verbally or non-verbally)
That’s why it pays to listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Frequently, a gesture, an expression, will reveal as much or more than words. Therefore, effective listeners seek to understand the meaning behind their customers’ words. This requires giving the other person full attention and demands conscious practice.