Listening is a simple concept. The truth is though; listening skills seem something of a challenge for some people because there are a lot of us out there who really haven’t got it dialled at all; like a certain tradesman I encountered last week.
A friend of mine popped round and saw a sparkly white tile sample on the floor in my hallway and asked what I was planning to have done. I explained I was planning to tile my hallway and bathroom floors in these tiles and that I had a friend who I would ask to do the job for me because I knew his work was superb.
At that point, as a good guy hoping to fix up a win-win for two of his friends, he said his best pal was a great Tiler and it would be worth speaking to him to see if he could do a great price for me. Fair enough. I thought no more of it.
Later that day, we actually saw the guy my friend had recommended and keen to do the introduction, he almost immediately mentioned my tiling job.
The Tiler showed what seemed to be a keen interest, so I explained in full that I wanted my floors tiled in my hallway and bathroom. I told him I had chosen the floor tiles, picked a grout, that the rooms were adjoining so I wanted a seamless flow between the floors in the two rooms, and that the entire floor space was just over 9 square meters.
So hot opportunity in front of him, what do you think his first question might have been?
You guessed it:
‘What are the walls like Mate?’
At which point, it was clear he hadn’t listened to a word I’d said so I quickly lost faith and interest so changed the conversation to something else, pushing his business card into my pocket and leaving it at that. Unfortunately, he had no listening skills. I didn’t really feel comfortable working with him and was worried that if I commissioned him I’d come home to find my kitchen ceiling had been tiled instead.
The guy said only six words and because he wasn’t listening look at the effect it had! Total loss of confidence, which in fairness to him was probably now irrecoverable. OK, maybe because of my profession I’m a tad critical of these situations but the point is it’s clear by a persons response when they haven’t listened to you.
By listening I don’t mean active listening or showing that you’re listening by falsely acknowledging their speech throughout. I mean being quiet and actually paying good attention to what is being said, taking it all in. Anyone can be a good listener but it may be the case that it requires some practice and a degree of self discipline to master.
If you wan’t to be a great conversationalist, you need to simply say substantially less than the other person during the course of a conversation. That means asking great questions which means listening carefully to know what next to ask.
There are differences between hearing, listening and understanding; and I think the reality is that people don’t think that others will notice when they’re not really listening, where as I can tell you right now, they do.
Giving people our full, undivided attention means we’ll probably learn more and get things right more often. Remember one thing, there is nothing more frustrating for a potential customer than a Sales Person who doesn’t listen.
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