If you want more business, listen up!

There’s an old adage that says we have been given two ears and one mouth in order to listen twice as much as we speak. I wish someone would tell that to the disturbingly large number of salespeople who are more interested in the sound of their own voice than what we actually want or need.

My mother and her husband, for example, just went through what can be an intimidating experience for many – buying a new car. Although the sales guy was a cordial, enthusiastic fellow, he apparently didn’t know when to stop talking and start listening. Despite his misguided approach, my folks went ahead with the purchase, only after meeting the dealership owner who was much more attentive in the listening department.

Practice needed

This brings up an interesting issue. Most of us in the events industry have been told that we would be well served to practice and improve our public-speaking skills. I, for one, am a proud member of Toastmasters International, an organization created for just that purpose. But how many organizations exist for us to practice our public listening skills?

Being able to understand the wants and needs of our clients does not begin with a long-winded diatribe on how unique our service or business is. It starts with listening.

In their book, Communicating at Work, authors Tony Allessandra and Phil Hunsaker say there are several reasons why we don’t usually listen effectively, including:

  • Listening is hard work – you must pay attention to yourself and the speaker
  • Competition – too much is going on around us and it can be difficult to screen it out
  • Rush to action – we want to respond to quickly
  • Speed gap – 135-175 words per minute speaking vs. 400-500 wpm listening
  • Lack of training – no formal education in listening

The authors also explain that listening more effectively can improve relationships, lead to fewer misunderstandings and result in better teamwork and productivity.

Sound intriguing? Come back soon for more ideas on how to become a better listener and more effective communicator.

About the author:

Sean Moon brings more than 20 years of senior communications experience to the MediaEdge team. His experience includes several years as an editor with the Canadian Press, 10 years as the Corporate Communications Director of an international nutrition marketing company, several years in the magazine advertising industry and more than five years as a communications and PR consultant. He has also worked extensively in magazine production, corporate event planning, public relations and marketing communications.

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