Yes, we’re all guilty of it – being in a conversation with someone, but instead of actually listening to the other person, we’re busy, in our minds, figuring out what we’re going to say. What happens, too, when the other person really needs to be heard, yet, we’re still too busy thinking of how we’ll shoot back a smart comment and one-up them with our brilliance?
Being a great listener . . .
Stop your brain and engage your ears
It’s hard not to think about your response, in the moment, to what someone else is saying, but, it’s crucial to successful person-to-person communication. When someone else is talking, collect the content, think about what they’re trying to tell you, and, then, consider your response. Pauses in conversation are okay – they allow for reflection and a much better response on your part.
Quit one-upping people
If you haven’t read Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” (pgs. 40-41), then hop on Amazon™ right now and order it. It is one of the best social intelligence books around and will give you a greater understanding of how to effectively interact and get along with others.
Show that you’re listening
Have you ever talked with someone who, when you say something, just stares back at you? There’s no nod of the head, blinking of the eyes, smile/frown, or any other reaction to what you’ve said. It’s like talking into a black hole. Make sure you’re acknowledging to the speaker that you’re actually listening to what they’re saying. It’s the feedback loop that says you’re engaged in the conversation and are interested in what they’re saying.
Rein in your emotion in an emotional situation
If you’re talking with a client who is very upset, it doesn’t do any good to respond back with emotion. Stop, take a step back, and fully engage your brain in what they’re trying to convey to you. Your response will be a thousand times better.
For example, if a client is angry over a glitch in a project, it doesn’t do any good to go into defensive mode and throw back every reason in the book why the glitch really isn’t a glitch. The best approach? Stop and listen. If possible, write down the client’s concerns as they talk. Do everything you can to demonstrate that you’re listening to the individual and clearly understand the problem. Only then, can you evaluate the situation and provide a solution – and that solution doesn’t even need to be on-the-spot. Your response can be, “Here is what I understand that you said about X glitch. I’m going to research it back with the team. Can I get back with you tomorrow and let’s talk further about a solution?” Wouldn’t that be a better way to deal with a “hot” situation?
I’m finding that empathy for another’s viewpoint seems to be going by the wayside. From watching too much television news analysis, it seems everyone has become a brilliant analyst on all sorts of topics and others’ viewpoints are immaterial. How about this for relationship building? How about putting the brakes on your viewpoint and actually listening to what a client is saying and giving it some credence? We all have different viewpoints and we have a right to those. Take the opportunity to learn how someone else views the world . . . wouldn’t that allow you to provide a better response?
And, last of all, when you feel the urge to run back to the office and gossip about a client, remember:
Great people talk about ideas
Average people talk about things
Below average people talk about other people
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