While listening well can be quite a challenge to most of us, even more of us tend to tune out when we are on the telephone. Indeed, in this day and age, when the Internet seems to be everywhere, we tend to forget the importance of the “old fashioned” telephone call when it comes to making business transactions. Listening well on the phone can be key for succeeding in business – and in life.
The fact is, listening well is not a science – it is more of an art form. While we can always hear the other person when we are talking on the phone, there is always the question as to whether or not we are really listening to what they are saying.
A lot of people take listening for granted. They think that it is easy. They think that they do it automatically, and do not realize those times in their lives when they are actually hearing, rather than listening. For example, when you are watching television or listening to the radio and the commercials come on, you are probably aware of them – you might be hearing them, i.e. registering their presence. But that does not necessarily mean you are listening to what those ads are attempting to convey.
Information is indeed easy to tune out, and this marks the difference between hearing and listening. And while it is quite easy to hear what a client or colleague is saying to you over the telephone, really listening to what they are saying is another matter altogether. So let us take a look at some of the ways you might become a better listener – and thus significant enhance your career prospects.
Making that decision is the first step. It shows that you are aware that you have a listening problem, and wish to improve it. After all, this is not something that is learned easily. When you went to school, you were taught math, science, writing, and a bunch of other subjects. But you probably did not have a course on listening well. Yet listening is the most vital skill towards the attainment of knowledge. So the first step to becoming a better listener is to decide that that is what you wish to accomplish. No one else can make that decision for you.
The first key to becoming a better listener on the phone is to be incredibly friendly. This is especially vital in those instances when you do not personally know the person you are calling or who is calling you. By giving off a friendly vibe the moment that the call begins, you are letting the other person know that you are prepared to really give a good listen to what they have to say. If you are working in a profession that finds you having to field phone calls from clients on a frequent basis, you might wish to say something along the lines of “You have come to the right place” after the caller announces his or her intentions.
After you have provided a welcoming demeanor at the outset of the call, the next step is to then fully concentrate on what the caller wants to communicate. The reason why so many of us struggle with our listening skills is because our mind is capable of processing a lot of information at once. This therefore leads us to occasionally do other things while we are on the phone – browse the Internet, for example – while only “half listening” to what the caller is saying.
In other words, our minds lack concentration. This provides a major barrier to effective listening. If you find yourself fidgeting, thinking of other things, or playing around while you are on the phone, make a conscious decision to stop doing all those things and to focus all your energies on the matter at hand – the phone call. If need be, turn away from your computer screen. It will still be there when you get back!
We do ourselves a lot of harm, whether we are aware of it or not, when we interrupt people on the telephone. While this is rude to do in any conversation, on the phone it can be taken as a major affront – and thus harm the chances of a successful transaction. Try to listen carefully to what the other is saying and let them complete their thought before you begin to respond. Do not assume that you know what the other person is going to say, and use that as a justification for interrupting them. Quite often, you will be in the wrong, anyway.