Scientific studies have shown that 78% percent of our day is spent communicating. When you apply how we interact in today’s world – tactics like delayed send, repeatables, and others – that figure easily tops 100%. But studies also show we communicate at a 30% rate of efficiency, meaning seven out of every 10 messages are misunderstood, mistaken, missed or messed up… in other words – inefficient.
Take for example the acronym ‘LOL’ – did you “laugh out loud” or send “lots of love?”
If our communication on a daily basis is messed up, when you apply the critical components of listening, we are not only conveying information poorly but receiving it poorly. We forget listening is a habit, something people used to be good at before digital distractions. While we’re more connected than ever, we’ve become less effective communicators and even less effective listeners.
Because I sit in on live sales presentations – face-to-face, phone calls, or via WebEx sessions – I hear what I call “choking on a chicken bone” or rather the prospective client trying to get a word in edgewise. The salesperson is speaking at top speed, and the prospect is choking on saying, “Uh, uh, uh…”
We think we are good listeners, but when we’re talking, especially when pitching, the only way to listen is to have a DISCUSSION. A discussion is an exchange of views. It involves time for both parties, with intent and mindful purpose, to be quiet and listen to the client, prospect or proposal.
As listeners, our mind is so busy we have a hard time focusing – whether we’re a salesperson with a client or prospect, a sales manager with a team or a CEO with an employee. We just flat-out don’t listen.
I’ve often noticed when a client is talking to a salesperson and speaks 100 words, the salesperson only listens to the first seven words and then from words 7-10 they’ll hear only three words before formulating their answer. As the client continues speaking, the salesperson will either interrupt or will be tapping their fingers on the desk waiting for them to get done. That’s 90 of the client’s remaining words that are not being listened to.
Are you a person who just doesn’t listen? You’re not alone because more than 70% of people don’t listen. There is a reason why we have two ears and one mouth.
How do we master listening? First, start listening. From there, you can grow and develop your critical skills and listen for the true meaning of what people are saying. We have to realize that humans have a need to be heard.
Today the divorce rate is higher than it’s ever been. Studies cite financial reasons followed by communication. Why do we have dysfunctional children? Diet is one answer, and also parents who are so busy being busy they don’t have time to listen to their children. For business leaders, whether in management, executive management or sales, listening is an easy way to become distinctive.
If you’re reading this article, you’re doing so with the intent and interest to become better at what you do. Know this – and I don’t say this to discourage – it would probably take a person 10 years of being conscious of mindful purpose and intent to really become the best listener possible.
So, what are some of the characteristics and practices of good listeners?
1. Pick up tone as well as words – both how the person says their words as well as the actual words being said.
2. Have the ability to hear what is NOT being said, especially from body language.
3. Is your mind in a position to where you can really SEE where your employee, client, prospect, or staff member is coming from, or are you so busy with all the other things going on that you can’t get connected with people?
4. Do you have the ability to hear over or under what’s said, hear the misrepresentations, hear from tone and body language the exaggerations?
5. Are you truly listening and being present in the moment or are you getting ready to respond to them? Are you busy formulating the answer versus really, truly listening to what they’re saying?
6. Are you quiet for seconds at a time? Especially when the person with whom you’re communicating has ended a sentence. The end of a sentence has a period which means stop. What we teach people is that they have to have a pause after a sentence.
7. Do you recognize the critical need of your prospects, clients or employees to be heard? We have to hear how the people are saying their words, but we also have to have the sensory ability to bring our mind to silence, stop the busyness and be completely one with that person in order to understand the message.
I teach my students Bauer’s Rule of 10%:
You should only speak 10% of the amount that your client or prospect speaks. If they speak 1,000 words, you should speak 100. If they speak 100 words, you speak 10. Remember to hear behind their words. There are multiple layers of meaning behind each word, each phrase, each sentence they give you.
• Concentrate on the Communication
• Be Very Cognizant of NOT Interrupting
• Keep Filters in Check
• Have Patience with People
Listen, really listen, and you will be rewarded with information that will help you succeed alongside distinction that will set you apart in your clients’ and prospects’ minds.
Characteristics of Great Listeners:
• Excellent Eye Contact
• Asks Questions
• Entertain Discussion
• Repeat What Was Said
• Stays Focused
• Emotionally Controlled
• Doesn’t Interrupt
• Doesn’t Change Subject
• Under Reacts
• Says “Okay”
Characteristics of Poor Listeners
• Constantly Interrupts
• Jumps to Conclusions
• Finishes Sentences
• Is Distracted
• Changes Subject
• Is Impatient
• Loses Temper
• Speaks Too Fast
10 Key Communication Tactics
1. Eye Contact
2. Uses Positive Speech Connectors
3. Listen for Meaning
4. Adapts to Brain Speed
5. Congruent Gestures
6. Under Respond
7. Focus on What’s Important
8. Learn and use the 1st Name
9. Take Notes
10. Be Visible
Chuck Bauer is one of North America’s most noted sales/business consultants. His expertise spans over thirty years of sales training and business consulting. Companies and businesses from a variety of industries benefit from his business and management consulting, individual sales training, and sales tune ups drawn from over 10,000+ LIVE sales training experiences. He has personally coached on 1000s of transactional/non-transactional sales processes all the way up to multi-million dollar international sales deals. To date, Chuck has helped well over 50 C-Level executives, hundreds of business owners, and thousands of individual salespeople work smarter, make more money, in less time!
A published author with Wiley Publishing, Chuck’s work has been featured in numerous business-and-sales-related magazines and websites. A licensed instrument-rated private pilot, certified open water scuba diver, and Bikram yoga practitioner, Chuck lives in Dallas, Texas.