Listening is a skill that will give you the edge over your competition. In most cases, we should spend about 75 percent of our time listening, 10 percent of our time thinking about what we’ve heard, and 5 percent of our time talking. Now, you probably notice that this doesn’t add up to 100 percent. The remaining 10 percent is the time you should be spending listening to your inner voice, intuition, and heart. Communication gurus tell us if you’re talking 50 percent of the time in a conversation, you’re talking too much and not listening enough.
Your ability to listen builds trust. There are two questions that must be answered before anybody will do business with you. Do they trust you? And, do they like you? Listening contains the keys to answering both questions. Studies have shown that miscommunication occurs largely because we do not take the time to listen. Alexander Pope, the famous eighteenth century English poet once said, “Some people never learn anything because they understand everything too soon.” One of the deepest needs people have is to be heard and understood.
Listening effectively is not easy. It requires what people lack most; time, patience, and total concentration. People will judge you on how much you care about them by your attention level. If you only hear a person’s words and not listen, you lose credibility and diminish trust. Here are some specific skills required to becoming a better listener:
- Focus on looking squarely in one eye of the person. Yes, one eye. This little trick subconsciously blocks out distractions and gives the person your total attention, and that is essential. Try it. It works.
- Don’t just sit there! Interrupt them when you lose focus and get back on track before you become lost. By the way, they know when you are getting lost!
- Ask good questions. Questions are like objections; they show that you have interest.
- Recap. Sum up the main points as you go along to make sure you understand what has been said.
- Don’t finish the other person thoughts, even though you may get their point.
And always remember, “Other people judge how much you care by how attentive you are.” So, when you are where you are, be there.