To listen or not to listen? That is the question…
Okay, so I’m no Shakespeare, but I like to quote the masters – Shakespeare, Senge, Seinfeld – whenever I get the chance.
Today’s topic is listening versus hearing. There are distinct differences. It’s important to go beyond hearing what somebody says if you want to truly convey that you care about what they’re saying.
You hear the wind, but do you listen to it? You hear the laughter, but do you listen to it? You hear the voices and the background music and the reporter on the television, but do you listen to them?
When you’re listening, you’re not only hearing the noise, but you are also seeking to understand the noise or the person or the content or music. In customer service, hearing may be passive, but listening is active. People want you to actively understand them based on what they say and how they say it. And just as much as they want you to listen, they want to perceive that you’re listening to them.
This means that you have to have the eye contact when you’re listening, you nod periodically, and you have to have a total focus with your body language that conveys that you’re attentive to them and thinking about what they’re saying.
To show you’re listening, it helps to convey your understanding of what they’re saying. So, take notes on what they’re saying, not relying purely on your memory. Because from the customer’s perspective, it doesn’t matter if you hear them; what matters is that they feel like you are listening to them.
When you are listening, others feel like their comments are appreciated. They feel like they are of interest to you and valued by you. They feel…important.
The next time you are engaged with a customer in conversation, don’t just hear them out – convey that you’re listening.