Along with Empathy, Active Listening is the ONLY way to get at The CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0.And it falls squarely in the “how” part of the “What vs How” conversation we’ve been having in this Blog for some time now. But what is it? How do you do it? And why is it so darn hard to do?
What is Active listening?
Active Listening (def.) A structured way of listening and responding to others. The act of Active Listening involves, in this order:
- focusing attention on the speaker
- suspending one’s own frame of reference and judgment
- avoiding other internal mental activities (like self-talk). If you don’t know what I mean by self-talk, it’s the voice that just asked you ‘what does she mean by self-talk?)
- and then responding based on what you hear
Repeat the last part. Say it again. Out loud. What you hear represents the CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0.
Why Active Listening is an essential tool for success
What your target market is saying is CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0 data. But if you can’t hear it, it actually doesn’t exist (to you).Successful products and services (the ones that make money for the person who created them) make life easier for those who buy them. They are always born froma response to CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0 data gathered through Active Listening while engaging with participants of a target market.
What CLIENT EXPEREINCE 2.0 data are you not hearing? And, what power could it have in your business?
Why Active Listening is so darn hard to do
Now, without going all psychology-crazy on you, it’s important to point out that the act of Active Listening actually runs contrary to how our brains are hard wired. Our hard wiring is about self-preservation, so while another person is talking, our brains are busy firing neurons to send information to our thoughts that turn into communication elements that are, by design, naturally self-serving.
So you can imagine how hard it would be respond to what you actually hear, when in order to actually hear what is being said, you first need to circumvent default brain activity related to internal mental activities and your frame of reference and judgments. With all that “brain noise” going on, there isn’t a whole lot of room to be present and focus attention squarely on the speaker.
Daunting? Yes. Achievable?Also Yes. (with some skill and some practice)
So how you do it?
Before you can apply Active Listening, you need to get the other person talking.
HINT! Using closed-ended questions won’t get the other person talking – but they’re often the easiest to ask. Closed-ended questions require a single word response like, yes or no. Try to avoid using these at all costs.
Instead, use open-ended questions that require a more informed response. Because these may require more thought on your part, prepare a few starter open-ended questions ahead of time; questions you know will get a contact talking so you can practice Active Listening.
Our next Blog post will focus on how to get people talking so you can apply Active Listening to real scenarios you may find yourself in, in your business.
Until then, I wish you good business success!