When it comes to soft skills, active listening is one of the most beneficial for salespeople. People buy from those they know, like and trust, and when you learn to listen well to prospects, you begin to build honest and trusting business relationships.

Ben Brearley, a leadership coach and trainer, says from a practical perspective, listening helps you understand what someone needs and what actions to take. While listening sounds easy enough, distractions – including your own self-talk – can get in the way.

In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we dig into Brearley’s thoughts on four ways you can begin to listen better at work.

  1. Reduce distractions. When you’re meeting with someone, put your phone on silent mode. Nothing says “I’m not interested” like looking at your phone when someone is talking to you, Brearley says. He also recommends closing your laptop and muting your smartwatch. This will give you the best chance to really hear what the other person is saying and sends a message that you are providing your undivided attention.
  2. Make time to listen. If your day is booked and you’re running from meeting to meeting, you won’t be in the best headspace to truly listen. Consider deferring conversations to when you have time to give proper attention. You could also cancel your commitments if you know the conversation is an important one, Brearley says. Don’t try to squeeze in discussions when you just don’t have time.
  3. Remember it’s not about you. To listen better, remember to keep the conversation about the other person. Brearley says many people tend to relate what they’re hearing to their own personal experiences. If they’re not careful, they’ve changed the conversation to be about them.
  4. Check in on your listening habits. Everyone can refine their listening skills. Even if you consider yourself a good listener, it’s helpful to monitor your listening habits. For example, Brearley recommends reflecting on times you felt uninterested or impatient when someone was talking. Or maybe you felt distracted during a conversation, and you didn’t focus on what was being said. These things can be tough to monitor, he says, but that’s what reflection is for.

Everyone wants to be heard, including your prospects. Show them you care about what they have to say by polishing your listening skills. Remember you don’t always need to have the answer – you simply need to hear what the other person is saying.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is a leadership coach, trainer and facilitator with nearly two decades of management and consulting experience.