Being an exceptional listener is one of the most powerful skills to master, and it’s necessary to create a successful and engaging business for everyone involved. Excellent listening skills allow a team to work together to deliver exceptional service to customers and at the same time develop a tight-knit group. In addition, mastering the art of listening enables a team to grow and develop their skills to achieve maximum results. Listening is used in every area of your business:
- Customers sharing their concerns, needs, and wants
- Leaders sharing business plans, goals, and objectives
- Associates knowing their roles and responsibilities
- Feedback on a daily, weekly, monthly basis
- Leaders creating engaging work environments
- All staff training and development
- Interviewing and hiring associates
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The Art of Listening
The art of saying less and hearing more—listening—is a skill you can learn. It’s a process: ask, stop, listen, and constantly reflect on what was said. Open-ended questions open the door to the other person sharing their thoughts, and you learn so much more when you take in information than you do when you give it. Learn to pause after asking, really hear the information, and then reflect on and repeat what you learned to confirm you are on the same page.
Here are a few key question starters and reflecting phrases to use when you are a good listener:
- What are your thoughts?
- How do you see this working?
- So, you…
- You believe…
- You feel…
- Sounds like you…
- Share your thinking with me on…
- Expand on that for me.
- What else?
- Describe what you mean.
The more the other person shares, the more you learn. Learning is power, the power to make situations better.
I propose a challenge over the next 30 days: when you have your team meetings, one-on-ones, or anytime you engage in a dialogue—stop, pause, and practice being a better listener. Take notes to keep track and follow-up for excellent closure or next steps.
Use this acronym to assist you in working to be the best listener you can be:
Q = Quiet and be ok with allowing silence to occur
U = Uncover what the other person is thinking by listening carefully and taking notes as needed
I = Inquire actively for the details; expand and gather the important data
E = Explore for options, results, next steps toward an agreement
T = Talk when it is your turn for clarification, to expand on their thoughts, or it’s time to share your thoughts or ideas
Your team and customers will notice when you practice better listening, and everyone will appreciate being heard as you progress.
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