You hear what’s being said, but are you really LISTENING? In this article, you will learn some simple ideas that will help you listen more attentively and effectively. You will learn the difference between hearing and listening, how to remain focused on the conversation at hand, and how to show you have been listening to the caller’s needs. This article is for any employees with consistent company phone usage, anyone in a customer service role, and those who wish to improve rapport with clients over the phone.
How often have you been talking to someone, then realised your attention has drifted, and you haven’t been paying attention for the last few sentences?
It’s a common human trait, caused by us having distractions and other ideas floating around in our heads, diverting our response away from the other person.
So, how can we improve our listening, especially when on the phone, where it’s more difficult to pay attention as the person isn’t physically in front of us?
Here are some ideas:
Firstly, remember the difference between hearing and listening
Hearing is simply being subconsciously aware that something is being said to us. We may not be concentrating and may drift in and out of a conversation.
True listening involves paying attention, taking note and hanging on to what the person is saying. It involves different parts of your brain, the parts that attend to conscious awareness.
Secondly, clear your mind of distractions
You may have been busy before taking the call, or have a lot on your mind. Remember that your self-talk is louder in your mind than what the other person is saying. So if you are silently thinking to yourself about other things, it will drown out the other person’s words, and you may find you have not been listening for the last few seconds, and that can cause problems.
Next, focus and concentrate on the conversation
The main way that you can stop your mind from drifting is by focusing on the conversation, not allowing your mind to wander. Easy? No, but with effort, you’ll be able to concentrate on the other person’s needs for enough time to understand the meaning behind what they want and deal with whatever it is.
Another important to keep in mind is don’t interrupt!
Nothing shouts louder that you’re not listening than interrupting someone! Instead, give the person room in the conversation and don’t just assume they have finished what they want to say; they may just be taking a breath!
A technique here is to allow a second or two after the person has finished speaking before you speak. That way, you lessen the chance of interrupting. Besides, interrupters are often focussing on what they want to say rather than listening to the other person.
Also, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes
This will allow you to think seriously about what the person is thinking and feeling. Are they concerned and anxious? Maybe they’re simply asking for information. Or could they be upset? Putting yourself in their shoes means seeing the situation from their perspective, and this will help and encourage you to listen more deeply.
And finally, cover the key points the person has made
You don’t have to repeat them word-for-word. All that proves is you made notes, but doesn’t prove you understood the person. Instead, summarise the meaning you have understood from the discussion.
This gives the person the confidence you have been listening, but more importantly, have understood what they require.
So be sure to listen with the intent to understand, not just to reply.
You’re listening to find out what the intention of the caller is, not just to reply to their enquiry. Also, you want to make a good impression to the caller, so by listening effectively, you increase your chances of building rapport and, ultimately, a longer-term relationship with the customer.
You’ll never be perfect at listening, but at least you can continuously improve your skills by following these ideas.
- True listening involves paying attention, taking note and hanging on to what the person is saying.
- The main way that you can stop your mind from drifting is by focusing on the conversation.
- Nothing shouts louder that you’re not listening than interrupting someone.
- Summarise the meaning you have understood from the discussion. This gives the person the confidence you have been listening.
Action 1: Decide
Decide on a conversation taking place today where you will practice your active listening skills.
Action 2: Practice
Decide to effectively listen when you start the conversation. Pay close attention and concentrate. Use positive body language. Ask questionss for confirmation. Resist the temptation to dominate the conversation.
Action 3: Review
Review the conversation afterwards. Did you find yourself drifting or thinking about what you wanted to say while they were speaking? How will you improve your listening skills next time?
Exam Question 1
What should you be concentrating on?
A. The conversation
B. The reason for the call
C. Your tone
A. The conversation
Stay focused on the conversation, make sure you really take in what is being said without letting your attention drift.
Exam Question 2
Hearing involved paying attention and taking notes.
Is this True or False?
Hearing is simply being subconsciously aware that something is being said to us. True listening involves paying attention, taking note and hanging on to what the person is saying.
Exam Question 3
When listening it’s important to make sure that you don’t…?
A. Have noise in the background
Nothing shouts louder that you’re not listening than interrupting someone! Instead, give the person room in the conversation.