dr. Nadir Qazi, founder, Qazi Cosmetic Clinic, is a certified cosmetic doctor and instructor for adv. injections and laser techniques.
In a busy, bustling world where everyone longs to be heard, the art of listening – not just hearing – improves or deteriorates our ability to serve customers more fully.
Listening is an essential communication skill, but it’s one that many never master. We interrupt. We think while the other talks. We wait for our turn to be heard, not hearing the importance of the other person’s message, because we want them to hear what we have to say instead.
Listening isn’t about staring into the person’s eyes, nodding your head, and agreeing with what they’re saying. It’s not about summarizing their words or saying phrases like, “I hear you.” These are techniques that can help you become a better listener, but they are not the art or skill of listening per se. Listening is caring.
Hear the hidden messages behind the words, not just the words themselves.
Becoming a skilled and artful listener builds trust, and trust builds credibility. Remember the golden rule: treat people the way you want to be treated. It has been etched in our memory since childhood and it is the key to developing successful, lasting relationships in business. Here are several ways to take your listening skills to the next level.
Tactic 1: Focus on them.
No matter how many recognitions, awards, or achievements you have, relationships built through warmth, kindness, caring, and willful listening are what people want most. When a customer communicates, they want to be seen as the only person that matters in that moment.
Give your full attention to the person speaking. Tune everything else in and give validity and distraction-free attention so that the person feels not only heard but understood. Distraction diminishes credibility. When customers feel that their words are not being heard or well received, they will be less willing to rely on your solution to meet their needs.
Listen between the lines. Ask questions to show that you are interpreting their communication correctly. For example, you might ask, “I understand you want the full system upgrade, but your budget now only allows this service? What if we could…” By verbally repeating what you heard first – without your interpretation of what you think they mean – can show your focus and desire to understand the client Let their words become your words and then dive deeper into them to understand on a more detailed level.
Tactic 2: Integrate empathy.
When people talk, it is important to recognize the emotion and meaning behind the communication. Understanding a customer’s wants, desires and concerns is essential to creating a memorable, life-changing experience. Create an environment where customers feel safe to confide in you. You can achieve this by being patient, considerate and taking their concerns and questions seriously. Customers want to feel that their voice is valued when it comes to coming up with solutions to their problems.
Compassion builds bonds of trust. By striving for the most welcoming and comfortable experience possible, you can build your brand as a supplier that cares about people and provides full service. This is how you turn your brand from yet another supplier into a friend that customers can’t live without.
Tactic 3: Adapt.
You may not always agree with the customer, and that’s okay. It’s not always about showing your expertise; sometimes you just need to focus on finding solutions to the customer’s wishes and needs. Being right is never the point; good customer relationships is about serving and meeting them and their needs wherever they are at every point of concern.
Be flexible and open to change. Proactively tailoring your service options will put more smiles on people’s faces. Customization ensures that people feel valued and heard and increases satisfaction. You may even learn about yourself and your services and gain a better understanding of your customers and their needs.
Relationships are based on emotional connections. When people feel heard, they feel valued; if they feel valued, they like you; and if they like you, they trust you. That’s when customers start to commit to your brand.
The skill of listening is gathering information. The art lies in your ability to understand what they mean to convey. Stop. To breathe. Listen. engage. Try to understand first, then to be understood. When people talk, realize that there is emotion and meaning behind the communication. Give people your attention and they will reward you with their loyalty.
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