Overlooking the obvious
In addition to using real questions (covered last week), what else can you do? When someone else initiates the conversation, it’s especially easy to leap right in. Instead pause for a moment and set your intention. Stop whatever else you were doing, and decide on your intention for the conversation that follows.
Sure, we all like to think we can multi-task, but the truth is we’re really just dividing our attention into slices and switching it back and forth. So as Yoda would say ‘there is no multi-tasking, there is only listen or not listen.’ You decide.
Hearing with your eyes
Watch the other person and you’ll notice telltale cues that whisper … stop talking … ask a question … or simply … hear this! Visual cues let you know from moment-to-moment how others are responding. So you can pause, confirm their position and ask a relevant question if need be.
Notice colour changes in the face and neck areas and pay attention to altered breathing. Like colour changes, a sigh or a deep exhale signals you’ve triggered an emotion. Pause and ask a question. Find out if it signaled a move in the right direction before you go on. If you’re thinking “not me, I’m not going near emotions, not with a ten foot pole” or a version of the same, wait.
Emotions are a good sign
You know emotions are the key to motivation. No emotional engagement means little motivation. And relax. Most people probably feel the same about exposing their emotions as you feel about dealing with them! Chances are they won’t even be aware of what they’ve just revealed. They will sense you’re really listening to them. And feel good about that!
Seeing with your ears
Notice changes in voice tonality, how the volume, tempo and pitch varies. People will underline important words using tonal emphasis. Focus your how and what questions on the words they highlight and you’ll discover the deeper meaning behind the words.
Good leaders are good listeners
How you listen and ask questions demonstrates the level of your interest. Sincere, deep or superficial. Leadership studies show a strong correlation between listening skills and the being perceived as a good leader. And although it seems counter intuitive, introverts make the most successful sales people in many fields. Perhaps because they listen more.