Stop Hustling and Start Listening
Business today is all about the hustle. High speed, high tech, high tension, there is no room for slowing down and taking the time to actually listen.
Considering the emphasis on good communication skills in other industries, it’s surprising how many real estate agents focus on solely the speaking portion of communicating. In doing this, they ignore the most essential part of communication: listening. Listening fosters strong relationships. It is the foundation for positive interactions. Actively listening to others allows you insights that you may not otherwise find. It is the springboard for ensuring sustainable success through repeat business.
Active listening fosters trust
Active vs passive listening. What’s the difference? Passive listening is what people do naturally. It doesn’t take any effort and you aren’t necessarily invested in the interaction - like when your TV is on and you aren’t really paying attention to it.
Active listening is the opposite. You actively respond to what you are hearing, repeating it in your own words back to the speaker. You don’t interrupt, you watch body language, you ask questions and try to remember any anecdotes/stories to refer to later. This lets the speaker know that you truly understand what they’re saying which gives them confidence that they’ve been heard. The saying goes: "People deal with people that they know, like and trust" and genuine listening goes a long way to achieving all of these.
Listening leads to knowledge
Knowledge is power! When you stay quiet long enough for others to speak, you will uncover what motivates them, and by asking the right questions, you will discover how best to help them as a result.
These insights can inform decisions based on your own company’s motivations, even if your direction differs from those of the source. The more information you can gather on a particular subject, the better your decision-making ability will be. So, as well as listening to your clients, keep listening to all the latest information and knowledge that becomes available within your industry and particularly in your specialised area of business. Being well-informed about your line of work not only increases confidence but will help establish you through word of mouth as the knowledgeable, credible, 'go-to' expert.
Build yourself a reputation
Your reputation as a listener translates directly to your business’ reputation. Customers want to be heard – especially when things haven’t gone as expected. If they don't at least feel acknowledged, then frustration and anger can quickly grow. It only takes a few of these situations before your reputation can be irreparably damaged. Listening to a frustrated client is the first step toward mending a relationship and remedying the situation, it shows them that you care.
Your reputation as a listener also affects your B2B relationships. Listening helps creates trust and a business reputation of trustworthiness is invaluable. As well as attracting new customers, you will attract the very best staff to your organisation. This creates a positive cycle, helping retain your best people and boosting your overall business productivity and profit as a result.
Part of active listening is asking open-ended, relevant questions. This motivates the speaker to elaborate further. Successful salespeople have always intuitively known this to be important to be able to develop more personal relationships, and ultimately motivate their customer to take action.
Deep understanding of what motivates, and what will further motivate someone often takes several conversations. Be patient. Active listening to help deeply motivate someone is always worth the time it takes and is mutually beneficial. Motivation drives everything, productivity, drive, and creativity on the job. Furthermore, motivation is infectious. One motivated person can increase the drive of everyone around them.
Listening makes the speaker feel respected
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Bryant McGill wrote, and it is so true. Think about your own experiences. When someone has taken the time to truly listen, ask relevant questions, reflect your words back to you, and even refer to your anecdotes, how does that feel? How do you feel about that person as a result? When we are listened to, we feel respected. The experience is always a better one just for being heard. In business today, customer experience is everything and the simple but powerful act of listening should not be underestimated. There are so many benefits that can be gained by simply taking small moments out of every day to truly hear what the people around you have to say.