Last week we discussed how important it is to show up early and prepared. This week the focus is shifted to realizing that we often need to learn how to
Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak . .
~ James 1:19
Now there’s some great advice straight out of the good book, shut up and listen. Listening allows you to pay attention, and paying attention is critical to success.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear people talking on top of one another, or they’ll phase out, gathering their own thoughts while basically ignoring the fact that the other person is still speaking. In sales, business or otherwise, this is not an effective way of communicating. Personally I have been guilty of it. I grew up as the youngest of four Italian boys from Long Island, New York, so most of the time I had to fight to be heard. But that’s just it, to be heard.
“I like to listen, I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” ~Ernest Hemingway
I realized (much later in life) that if I’m talking, I’m not listening, and that means I’m not learning anything. And if I’m not learning about someone or something that may be important to my life and or career, well, then, how can I be of any value? How can I understand what they need, how they feel, or what their concerns are? How can I help? How can I succeed?
An important component of listening is that we have to ask questions first. People will tell us everything we need to know in order to accomplish something. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a job interview, a marriage or in the sales field. Ask questions, then shut up and listen.
“If you spend more time asking appropriate questions rather than giving answers or opinions, your listening skills will increase” ~Brian Koslow
If you ask someone a question, they can’t help but give you an answer. It’s something in our DNA; if we say “How are you?” we get a response. We ask, “Did you see that story on the news about . . .” and we’ll get into a discussion about it because we are all programmed to respond to questions. Use this as a tool and develop it into a skill. Oh, and it works every time, unless of course your spouse is really mad and totally ignores you. If that’s the case, then you’re on your own.
We have to get back into the questioning mode we learned (or inherently knew) as a child. A child says “Why?“ “Why?” “ Why?” And they do so in order to learn. So why is it that as we get older, we somehow gravitate away from asking questions? This might start somewhere in our childhood where our parents lack patience or knowledge and say “Stop asking so many questions!” Then in school where we might feel self conscious or “dumb” about asking a question so we don’t even ask. Either way, we shouldn’t stop asking , and there’s a Chinese proverb that’s appropriate here.
“One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”
If you ask better or smarter questions, your clients, friends or family will think you’re smarter or better at what you do. And they will turn to you more; they will confide in you.
And we’ve all heard the expression that there’s no such thing as stupid questions, just stupid answers, so ask! Ask questions, ask for advice, ask the sale and then shut up and pay attention. One of the most important factors in life and business, if not the most important is this: When you listen to people they’ll feel acknowledged and respected. John Maxwell said
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
Whether they’re a client, a friend, or a relative, you should care about them right? You will learn how to help them, help yourself or understand each other‘s needs and it will ultimately position you to succeed. If you listen and focus, then you can respond with caring, insight and love, you will do your job better, and have better relationships and this alone will set you apart from many;therefore listening is positioning.
I’ll shut up now. ; )~
Rock Star Success Coach & Sales Trainer