Are you a great listener? One lesson that sticks with me from my social work degree is being a good listener & reading other's body language.
Great listeners do the following:
1. PRACTICE BEING TRULY MINDFUL Being present to hear what the speaker is saying is essential to being a good listener. While most of us know it’s rude to pick up our cell phones to respond to a text or check email while engaging in a conversation, avoiding internal distractions are much more difficult.
2. TAKE A PAUSE BEFORE RESPONDING In order to avoid awkward silences and gaps in conversation, often we will formulate our response to someone while they’re still speaking.
3. PARAPHRASE WHAT WAS JUST SAID To ensure they’re interpreting the speaker’s information correctly, good listeners practice what's called reflective listening, which means that they avoid responding right away and instead paraphrase what was just said. This gives the speaker the opportunity to say, "Yes, you’re really hearing me," or, "No, that’s not quite right." Reflective listening not only shows the speaker that you’re truly engaged and interested in understanding them, but avoids the opportunity for misunderstandings.
4. HAVE AN OPEN MIND How many times have you gone into a meeting with someone thinking you know exactly how the conversation is going to go? Perhaps you’ve already had the conversation in your head before you’ve even given the other person a chance to speak. Great listeners go into a conversation with an authentic desire to understand, rather than preconceived notions or judgments about what the other person is going to say.
5. COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE Listening can be challenging and uncomfortable. Sometimes you’re forced to hear things that you don’t agree with.
6. AWARE OF THEIR BODY LANGUAGE The way you position your physical self lets the speaker know whether you’re engaged in the conversation. When actively listening, lean slightly forward, make eye contact, and give the occasional nod to show you’re interested. Avoid using your body as a physical barrier by crossing your arms or covering your face with your hands.
Being an active listener can help you better understand your customers' needs.