Would you like your clients and prospects to believe that you will be a true business partner for them? You can help make this happen by sharpening your active listening skills. Active listening helps you project a spirit of good will and project your most positive, professional image.
Very often, it’s wise to listen as your conversation partners express themselves fully, before you present your own thoughts, opinions, and perceptions. People are more likely to agree when they feel that they themselves have been heard!
Here are three steps that will help you listen actively:
Step 1: Blend
Blending is any behavior that helps reduce the differences between you and your conversation partners. The goal is to increase rapport. As we speak, listeners are often subconsciously wondering “Are you with me, or against me?” — so building rapport is very important. Blending will help you do it. This means that you will mirror – and not mimic – your conversation partner’s tone, pacing, volume, facial expressions and posture. Give receptive signals: “Oh, yes, I see, I understand”, and use a lot of head nodding.
Step 2: Backtrack
The goal of backtracking is to show that you are listening and want to understand. When you backtrack, you repeat verbatim your conversation partner’s words. It is important not to paraphrase; use the exact words. This is particularly useful during business conversations on the phone.
Step 3: Clarify
Ask clarifying questions. Your goal is to gather as much information as possible and delay giving your own responses. Clarifying questions begin with the words “why”, “how”, and “tell me about…” There are three main benefits to backtracking: it shows that you are patient and supportive, it helps an unreasonable conversation partner behave more reasonably, and it helps reveal any hidden agendas that your conversation partners may have.
These three steps for active listening will help you project a spirit of good will and caring. Next time, I will share the final two steps to help you listen actively and make it easier for your clients and prospects to believe that you’ll be a true business partner for them!
Tags: business speaking, business speaking skills, Creating successful converations, credibility, elevator speech, engage listeners, executive speaking, presenting, public speaking, speaking with impact, successful business speaking, visual and vocal impact