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“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Sir Winston Churchill

One of the biggest obstacles I find to successful communications is that as soon as we stop talking, many of us begin to plan our next opportunity to share our brilliance. When we’re toddlers, making constant demands for the starring role in our parent’s eyes may be cute. This process seldom succeeds in adulthood.

Whether selling, negotiating, networking to meet and greet new prospects, or simply relaxing with family or friends, the addiction to the starring role on life’s main stage can destroy careers and relationships.

Great two-way communication begins with an understanding of the payoffs connected to becoming a better listener. If current techniques work, there’s no problem. No problem. No reason to change.

However if you think you might be one who is “Listening Challenged” read further.

Consider these three benefits to listening.

  1. Listening demonstrates respect. It’s the right thing to do. Implement the Golden Rule of Listening: “Listen to Others as You Wish Them to Listen to You.”
  2. Avoid Misunderstandings. Becoming a better listener will save time. You’ll invest less time correcting mistakes that occur because of inattentive or faulty listening.
  3. Build Relationships. Good two-way communication builds trust and respect. Those are two essential building blocks for a business partnership. Who wants to work with an individual who monopolizes every conversation?

 The First Three Tools to Improve Telephone Listening Skills

  1. Eliminate or Decrease Environmental Distractions when making critical business calls.
    1. Turn away from your laptop or close it completely if it’s unnecessary for the call.
    2. If the call is made through the company phone system, silence your cell phone.
    3. Turn your mobile device so you can’t see those annoying pop-up reminders.
    4. If your work environment is noisy, move to a quieter spot like a conference room.
    5. Advise colleagues that you’re making an important call and a quieter environment is appreciated. This courtesy works to benefit everyone.
  2. Be prepared for the call.
    1. Reread previous call notes.
    2. Secure all computer and print resources if you’ll need them to respond to customer questions.
    3. Make sure you have a glass of water or other beverage available in case “dry-mouth” attacks.
    4. Get comfortable. If you sit up straight, not only will your mom will be proud of you, your voice will be more distinct, resonant and audible.
  1. Be Intuitive. Listen for pauses, quick intakes of air, hesitations, gasps, changes in pace, tempo or tenor.
    1. Additionally be aware if you begin to hear increased background noises on the prospects end of the line. If you do, perhaps this is a good time to ask, “Is this still a good time for our conversation.”
    2. Clients appreciate it when you are considerate of unscheduled demands upon their time. Accept that client conditions and schedules change.
    3. Give the client the option to reschedule the call to a more convenient and less stressful time.

As Stephen R. Covey warns, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Don’t be one of those people.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!