The Power of Listening
Connect with people by paying attention to what they have to say
Listening is the key to communication. Many people think negotiations are all about talking, but they’re really about listening.
This morning, you negotiated with your alarm clock. Then, you negotiated walking around while getting dressed in the dark. While driving, you negotiated with traffic. Today, you’ve also potentially negotiated with the clerk at the gas station, traffic speeding down the highway, your accelerator as you decide how fast to drive, the parking attendant, etc. Life is full of negotiations.
The best negotiators listen far more than they talk. Richard Branson attributes listening skills as one of the main factors behind the success of Virgin Airlines.
So why is listening so important? Because when you listen to the person on the other side of the table, he or she is more likely to listen to you.
There are three things that people want from you. Whether you’re communicating with your spouse, coworker, or a customer, they all want to know you’re hearing them, that you value them, and that they have a connection with you. With good listening skills, you can accomplish all three.
You can obtain knowledge from the person on the other side of the table by asking good questions and listening. As HVAC sales professionals, you have a wonderful opportunity to serve the people in your city. After all, you’re helping them to live more comfortably in their own homes. You should always consciously make the decision to actively listen to the person you’re conversing with. Being present and attentive leads to actually connecting with people, which makes them feel valuable. It also makes the conversation a rich and worthwhile experience for both parties.
Change how you communicate with people and you’ll change your world and theirs. While some people are naturally shy and won’t make eye contact with you, it’s important that you stay focused yourself. Continue to make eye contact, be attentive, and listen without judging.
Three important reasons to listen:
1) It helps us understand the other side. Negotiations are just an exercise in influence;
2) It helps us connect with the other person. It builds rapport, trust, and shows that we care; and
3) It makes it more likely that the other person will listen to us. It helps us find agreement.
WHY IS LISTENING SO DIFFICULT?
Many times, I’ve felt like I’m doing a really good job listening to people at work, only to go home to have my wife say, “You are not listening.” It’s humbling.
There’s so much noise in our heads sometimes that we push back what we think is not important. Grocery lists, dry cleaning, kids, coworkers, emails, and the list of things that can take our attention away from truly listening never ends. Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing refers to receiving sound, whereas listening requires more than that. Listening requires focus and paying attention to other cues such as body language, voice, and pitch. A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left unsaid.
HOW DO WE LISTEN?
There are two types of listening.
In ordinary listening, we hear the words someone is saying and are simultaneously thinking about whether we agree or disagree and how we are going to respond. In other words, the focus is on us and our response.
In genuine listening, the focus is on the other person. We put ourselves in their shoes. The focus is not on replying, but on understanding. When we use genuine listening skills, we listen not just for words, but for the underlying emotions, feelings, and needs.
Effective listening can lead to better customer satisfaction. What would happen if we listened more? Greater productivity and fewer mistakes are added benefits. Listening also improves our relationships with others. When you’re engaged in conversation, you tend to like the people who listen to you. Notice what happens on your sales appointments when you give the gift of your attention and listening.
Ironically, listening is the least-developed skill among HVAC salespeople. Very few of us were formally trained to be great listeners. The best HVAC sales professionals don’t spend time presenting features and benefits, they simply ask good questions and genuinely listen to their customers.
So, stop talking, focus on the speaker rather than what you’re going to have for lunch, be empathetic and try to understand their point of view, be patient, and watch for gestures.
Mark Twain summed it up best: “If we were supposed to talk more than listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.”
Try genuine listening. You’ll have more successful negotiations and more satisfied customers.
Publication date: 5/30/2016