Listen to me, I know what I am talking about!
Originally posted on August 1, 2010
In a sales training course I took, the instructor mentioned that one of the essential steps to being successful at selling is listening. She went on to tell us that in most conversations you have, you should try to speak 20% of the time and listen the other 80%. She bluntly said, ask an open ended question then shut up and listen. Over the years I have experienced the power of listening and the fact that people like to be heard. Solomon covers this one in the Book of Proverbs by stating, “He who answers a matter before he hears it is not wise” (see Proverbs 18:13) This skill has proved a great deal of worth to me in business and in life.
A couple of years ago I had a meeting with one of my clients who owned a commercial landscaping business. As soon as we sat down, I asked him how his week was going and then just LISTENED. Our conversation lasted nearly an hour and half. During this time, I spoke for a total of probably 10 minutes and mainly just asked questions. I was shocked when my client stood up thanked me for my excellent advice and said he was excited about our discussion and all of the things he was going to work on to improve his business. The greatest part was when he called me a couple of days later to tell me all of things he worked on and did to improve his business.
In my final years in college and soon after, I started to catch myself not listening, focusing or even paying attention to people when they were talking to me. In addition, I often times found myself finishing sentences for people and then changing the subject. I realized this when it happened at work once and my co-worker was not too happy about it. From that day forward I have made a conscious effort to listen more and talk less. This is not an easy skill to master, but it is a very important one. Make a conscious effort to listen to your friends, colleagues, wife/husband, and most importantly your kids.
Below are some reasons to improve your listening skills:
1. To avoid saying wrong things, being thoughtless
2. To generate a feeling that you care
3. To process the conversation and understand the persons thoughts
4. To make the other person feel important and recognize them
5. To get the person to listen to you.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with some great leaders, authors and educators. One of my more memorable meetings was when I met John Maxwell. John Maxwell has written a number of books including: The 21 irrefutable laws of Leadership, Leadership Gold, The 360° Leader to name a few. He has trained over 2 million business leaders and sold over 13 million books. After a seminar I attended, I waited in line to get his autograph which took forever. When I finally met him, his first words were: Hello, it’s nice to meet you, now tell me a little about you. I couldn’t believe that he cared to listen to me talk about myself. Find any GREAT leader, mentor, husband, or dad, and I guarantee you they listen more than they talk.