For all of the questions in the world, if we aren’t listening to the answers, and if the person answering doesn’t perceive that we are listening, it’ll all be for nothing.
The International Listening Association has performed more than 35 research studies. Those studies show that people who feel listened to are more likely to engage in future interactions with you.
So, what happens when you fail to listen to someone? Is it safe to say that whatever goal we have for the conversation might not be achieved? Perhaps it becomes possible that the person may get annoyed with us? Maybe even we get embarrassed, too?
All of the above are the various possible outcomes and repercussions for what happens when we fail to listen to others intently. There are many ways to listen intently, so lets review the steps most critical to building a relationship as it relates to the phone. And more particularly, let’s explore this idea further because without the ability to physically see our subject through the telephone, the means of which we communicate visually and physically end up being quite different.
- Obstacles to Listening
Let’s first discuss some of the obstacles that get in the way of our listening abilities; why do we listen better at certain times as opposed to others? Some of these are as simple as time itself; maybe you’re running late, maybe you’re distracted, or maybe you’re just plain tired. There are physical ailments, as well as other obstacles that can be deep rooted, such as your beliefs, past experiences, attitudes, and values. However, the key here is that there are reasons for not listening, so to be better at it, it’s critical to understand what those obstacles are and why we feel them.
- Stages of Listening
As we work through these obstacles, let’s also focus ourselves on the different stages that we sometimes find ourselves in as well. It’s ok here; it’s time to admit to ourselves that every last one of us has been in each one of these stages within different conversations all throughout our lives. It’s also possible to move from stage to stage in a single conversation, and in fact, it happens quite often.
- Ignoring- Completely phasing out the person who is speaking.
- Pretending- “Yeah, Uh-huh, Right.”
- Selective- Hearing only certain parts of what someone is saying.
- Attentive- Active/reflective & skill based listening.
- Empathic- Listening with the intent to understand. Empathic listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. This step is essentially the same as the previous step, but with more feeling.
Good listeners focus on understanding what’s being said and why, rather than thinking of what they want to say next.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
– Stephen R. Covey
- Steps Towards Listening More Intently
- Receiving- Did you receive the information or was it lost somewhere in A or B above?
- Attending- Have I devoted my attention to the message or is it lost in stage B or C?
- Listening to Understand- AKA: The First step of Reflective Listening- Do we fully understand from the sender’s point of view (step D and E above)?
- Responding- Have I spoken to the sender from the same point of reference (step E above)?
- Remembering- Do I remember the sender’s message and my response?
- Things to Remember
The second step in reflective listening is to implement the active listening tool of “Mirroring” or Paraphrasing. The technique of mirroring is to simply repeat back to the sender what you had heard in your own words. Not only does this demonstrate that you are actively and intently listening; it also sends the right kind of message that you are on the same page – at least to an extent!
Let the person speak uninterrupted. It’s very tempting to interrupt the sender depending on the subject matter and our beliefs. After all, our minds are able to think about and comprehend around 800 words per minute, compared to the 125-150 words we speak per minute. Don’t miss valuable information by finishing their thought or assuming the question.
- Conclusion – How effective of a listener are you? Understand that the key to any good two-way communication is determined by this fact. Also, realize that listening is a skill that can be practiced and mastered over time. It’s not something that generally comes naturally to us as humans.
Co-Authors- Grady Flowers and Chuck McGraw:
Grady Flowers has been a successful entrepreneur for more than 20 years. Additionally, he is the founder and Sr. Pastor of Destiny Church. It’s this entrepreneurial spirit and tremendous passion that drives Grady to help sales and service staff improve their skills through a practical approach he personally experienced as a retail car professional.
Chuck McGraw has been in the retail automotive industry for over 30-years, presently serving as the President and CEO of Marcom Inc. Marcom was the first to pioneer recording-based sales training in the late 80s, and over the past 3-decades, developed proprietary methodologies that increase dealership performance. Marcom leverages a blend of technology and human interaction to drive performance with behavioral changes that increase sales and service dollars.