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How to Tap the Power of Effective Listening

Nov 24, 2007
A major mistake many marketers make building their direct selling business is they forget to use their listening skills and end up not listening to their prospect. If you are like these marketers, listening has become a forgotten skill.

The fact is we can spend countless hours focusing on preaching about our features and benefits and get trapped in a 'show and tell' mode. The result is we end up frustrating our prospects and ourselves. Then we wonder why we are not recruiting or selling the way we should.

Whether you are selling your products and services or recruiting a new downline member, you can put the power of effective listening to work for you. The result? You will avoid failure.

In this article, we will uncover the power of effective listening. We will talk about what effective listening is and how mastering the skill of effective listening can help you sell and recruit more. You will not only learn how to tune others in, but you will also learn to tune yourself in.

What is Listening?

Listening is really the silent part of communication. It is often the skill, and yes it is a skill, that is forgotten when we are prospecting and selling. Interestingly, by listening effectively, we can reach a clear understanding of our prospect, which leads to the prospect responding in a more appropriate manner. This leads to supportive cooperation, which means the prospect is on the same positive page as you. Being on the same page increases the prospect's cooperation in hearing more and improves their interest level.

TIP - Effectively listening to your prospect can increase your sales and recruiting results.

Research shows that we spend most of our time listening. Here is the breakdown of these statistics:

55% Listening
23% Talking
13% Reading
9% Writing

Based on these statistics, listening is the primary means of how we gather information about our prospect. Unfortunately, listening is also the least understood part of our communication. When we think of listening, we often confuse listening with hearing.

What's is the Difference Between Listening and Hearing?

Hearing is the physical ability to accept and transmit sound waves from the eardrum to the brain. However, listening is the ability to put meaning to that transmission of words. Think about the difference for a few minutes!

TIP - You must fully understand the difference between listening and hearing in order to become effective in listening.

You most likely heard many thousands of words today, but did you listen to everything? No you did not. You did not listen to everything because our minds do not allow us to absorb and listen to everything. Our minds do this because listening requires an energy and focus. We could never concentrate and absorb everything that comes our way, so our mind filters out (a selective hearing process) much of what we hear.

Sometimes people will refer to one who doesn't listen as hearing impaired, yet being hearing impaired is a physical condition. But, listening impaired is not. Listening is a skill that most people never fully develop. To expand our listening skill and enhance our ability to listen more effectively, we need to expand our thinking beyond just the interpretation of the difference between hearing and listening. We need to truly get in touch with the whole component of listening as communication. This means facing the facts about communication realities.

Three Major Filters that May Affect Our Overall Quality of Listening!

The reality about communication is we cannot allow ourselves to NOT communicate. From our non-verbal signals to the way we dress to the facial expressions and more. These things all affect our communication and even our listening ability.

Whenever contact is made, communication occurs. One problem that occurs as soon as we come in contact with someone is our mind starts chattering to us about our perception of the other person. When talking on the phone, it could be mind chatter about how the prospect sounds, which gives us a perception of this individual.

When communicating, the meanings of messages are in people, not in words. Words alone are only part of the message and meanings cannot be transferred from one mind to another, only words can.

WARNING: The receiver of the words usually attaches their own meanings to the words others are sending. This leads to another reality, ALL communications are received. However, 70% to 90% of communications are screened out or changed by the receiver. This means, at least 70% of what you say gets screened out or misunderstood!

Incredible!! 70% of what we say gets screened out or misunderstood. Think about that for a moment. Why does that happen? Why it happens is another simple answer but not a real easy one to understand. 70% of what we say gets screened out or misunderstood because of the fact our mind operates on a method of selective listening.

Selective listening is created with three major filters that may affect our overall quality of listening:

1. Selective Attention - This filter allows us to decide on what we will focus on or give our attention to.
2. Selective Interpretation - This is where we filter and place our own meaning on what we are hearing. Often our meaning comes from our background or own experience.
3. Selective Retention - This filter helps us decide what information to keep and how long to keep it.

A Simple Strategy to Stay In Tune When Communicating

How can one be in tune with their prospect and in tune with themselves in the communication process? There is one very simple strategy. The strategy is:

ASK! Then LISTEN!

Unfortunately, most people try to ASK! Listen for 1 1/2 seconds, and then they interrupt and start talking! Talking too much is what causes people to not get the recruiting or sales results they desire. The secret to more effective communication is to put a major focus on listening to the prospect.

We realize it is not easy to become an effective listener but it is necessary for you to master this skill. The first step to master the skill of listening is to become aware of your listening skills.

TIP - After every prospect call, ask yourself this important question: "Who did the majority of the talking?" Chances are if it was you doing most of the talking, you did not get the results you wanted. Think about that fact and then begin becoming aware of your listening ability.

Once you become aware of your listening abilities, you MUST acknowledge whether or not you have a listening problem. That is half the solution. The second half of the solution is improving and mastering your listening skills. If you want to become a successful leader with a huge residual income, you MUST master the skills of effective listening.

Listening is a Learned Skill!

Too often, we tend to think it is important to be a great talker to be a great recruiter or sales person. But listening is what makes us great, not talking. Sure, you have to be able to talk but it is the listening skill that will help you achieve greater results.

Listening is a skill that can be learned. A great way to learn to be more effective in your listening habits is to focus at least 15 minutes a day on enhancing your ability to listen. Over time, you will gain confidence and improve your overall listening skills. As a result of improving your listening skills, you will improve your business results as well.
About the Author
Jeff Zalewski is a Certified Training Consultant & CEO of Direct Selling Academy, Inc., your training & performance improvement resource. Jeff intertwines his knowledge & in-the-field experience throughout his training and performance improvement resources. Subscribe FREE to his Direct Selling Pro eNewsletter at http://www.directsellingacademy.com
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