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Listen. Do you really hear what people are saying to you?

It’s one of the most important tools that you can have in your kit bag – to listen. How well you do it can have a serious impact on how well you do your job and the quality of the rapport and relationships that you build with others.

So, how many reasons can you think of when you need to listen properly to others – particularly your clients?

Listen to learn
Listen to understand
Listen to gather information
Listen to be able to show others we respect them
Listen to indicate that we interested in what others have to say

Research suggests that we remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear. Think about that – if you are listening to the client and you only hear 25% of what they say what is the potential outcome? You have to hope that you captured the important and relevant points, but what if you didn’t? By becoming a better listener, you will improve your effectiveness and will be more likely to avoid conflict.

So, how can you improve your listening skills?

The biggest tip is ensuring that you pay attention, and show people that you are listening.

Have eye contact with them, and don’t pre-plan your answers.
Listen to what they say so that you can naturally ask an appropriate question.
Think about your body language: smile, nod, soften your shoulders and don’t hunch them.
Give them active listening signals – ‘yes’, ‘uh uh’ ‘I think you just said….. is that right?’

Learning to do it properly takes some practice, so plan to do it. Allow the speaker to finish before you speak, don’t interrupt. How do you feel if someone interrupts you? Decide what it is that you want to learn from the interaction and then ensure that you come away with that knowledge.

Start to be more aware of how others around you are behaving – if you want to be known as someone who is respectful, who understands the need to understand others and who want to know what the business has got to say, then you are in control.

Penny Whitelock, October 2016

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