God gave us two ears and one mouth, which one do you think He wants us to use more? That’s right, LISTEN! 

We’ve all done it, we’re on the phone, engaged in conversation and all of a sudden, an email pops up on the screen and we focus on the email and tune out what the person on the phone is saying. Then we get a question and realize we have no clue what the question was.   

Studies confirm that most of us are poor listeners. Have you ever been in a meeting where one person is so anxious to get their voice heard that they aren’t listening to the conversation?  And when they do speak, they’re off topic?  Awkward silence enters the room and eyeballs connect acknowledging that was sooooooo two minutes ago.  Don’t be that guy!

When your customers are speaking with you, be fully engaged, be in the moment with them. Physically leaning in to the conversation helps you focus on what they are saying.  If something else is on your mind, write it down and continue listening.  If an important text or call comes in – take a moment, tell the speaker this is important, address the issue, thank them and return to full listening focus.  Maintain eye contact, nod in agreement and make sure the speaker knows you are right there with them.

When you listen to customers, even if you don’t agree, think about why they are addressing the issue with you. Think about the challenges they are facing in their life and the struggles they are dealing with.  Make the effort to sincerely understand where they are coming from.  This is important to them and you want to be sure to know why.  

One of the biggest challenges we have in these days of instant gratification is that our brains are going faster than people can talk. Research says that most people talk about 125 words a minute (more for millennials!) but we have the mental capacity to understand someone speaking at 400 words per minute like those legal disclaimers on the radio.  So when we are listening to the average person, we’re only using 25% of our mental capacity and what happens?  That extra 75% of our brain starts to wander.  All the more reason to concentrate on what is being said.

So quit talking over people, let them finish a thought and sentence before you charge in to put your two cents in. Say what you want to say and stop talking.  Give your full attention.  Everyone wants to be heard and understood. Those who listen are rewarded. 


Written By: Kathy Zorn

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