A major key to successful communication is active listening. Hearing and listening are not the same. Hearing is the physical part of any communication. Listening is allowing your emotional mind to be receptive. Listening involves more than simply hearing. It requires you to get mentally involved with the person and with what is being communicated. To be an effective connector requires you to be an effective listener. Dale Carnegie said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get others interested in you.”
For most individuals feeling listened to and understood is as essential as food and self-preservation. What better opportunity is there as you are building your business than for you and your colleagues to support one another by being great listeners for each other? Learning to listen to colleagues and helping one another be more effective will position you with the self-confidence to talk with and listen to potential customers and representatives.
I’ve witnessed situations where someone is introducing a product or service to a potential customer. I occasionally notice this at the Barnes and Noble bookstore I frequent. The prospect looks glazed over as the person selling something talks on and on and on about the wonderful products, the wonderful opportunity and how wonderful he or she is doing. I’m “overhearing” a one way conversation and wondering if the sales person even cares about the prospect, where he or she is coming from or whether there’s even an interest in receiving feedback. Doing all the talking is a monologue and does nothing in establishing a connection. If you practice listening to members of your organization, team or sales force and offer solid feedback to one another you can recognize and correct your listening behavior.
Of course, listening is only one way you can help one another. You can offer suggestions, mentor, brainstorm, collaborate, and critique presentations. Regularly make time to create new ideas and avenues that can help each one of you grow your businesses. In my experience learning from members of your team about what does and doesn’t work is the most effective way to make adjustments. If you believe in collaboration and cooperation rather than scarcity and competition there is no limit to future possibilities for each of you.
You can never learn too much. Your career will only grow as much as you do, so your commitment to continuously engage in self-improvement is critical. Professional growth is the cornerstone of all your future success. In order to grow yourself, you first have to know yourself. Personal development and growth is a life-long learning process. To improve your performance it’s essential you engage in learning activity. Books, seminars, classes and other vehicles provide a wide range of resources which are easily accessible.
Consider small steps in overcoming any fear you have to just opening up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Create conversations anywhere. Just start somewhere. Maybe compliment someone. Ask someone where they bought their beautiful handbag. Admire a haircut and ask for the name of the salon and stylist. We all talk to one another in ladies rooms – it seems so natural.
Take the comfort you experience doing that and expand it into the market place. I talk with women in line at the supermarket, over produce, in postal lines, in elevators. Of course it’s, “small talk”. Most women are happy to have someone initiate and only too happy to participate. You be an initiator. Just find something, anything, that opens a door. As you begin practicing and becoming comfortable you’ll be amazed at the growth of your self-confidence.
Work on the Right Things, for YOU
One of my biggest challenges continues to be managing my time. Managing multiple tasks is not easy. I learned early on that if I wanted to be successful I had to also regularly set aside time for myself, my family and community. At the beginning of each week I developed a daily schedule to include all the tasks I wanted to accomplish beyond work. Positive results followed even when life got in the way and it will! Consistent action is key.
Successful business people are doers. They don’t make excuses. They are energized. Consistent and productive activity is the key to developing your unshakable belief. Unwavering belief is necessary for success. Applaud your daily victories. In any business, you have to get a certain amount of information out and do a certain amount of follow up every day. Doing the right things will ensure getting the right results. Using the time you do have effectively will make a difference. How you manage that time and how you guide others to manage theirs is one significant step you can take to improve performance. Don’t believe for one minute being busy is productive. What is productive is your taking action toward your goals.
Developing your communication skills is another area for improving performance. Individuals who have developed their ability to communicate effectively have a major advantage over their competitors. Communicating is an art. I’ve mentioned the importance of listening earlier when talking about building your relationships. Listening and hearing are not the same. Hearing is the physical part of any communication. Listening involves more. Active listening allows your emotional mind to be receptive. It requires you to get mentally connected with who is talking and with what is being said. Listening engages both hearing and eye contact. It’s connecting through words, feelings and actions.
Listening is essential in any sales situation. Not every contact is ready to purchase what you offer, however, a satisfied customer can certainly link you to someone who might be. That’s why it’s valuable to get to know your customers through post cards, notes, and customer care calls. Take a genuine interest in where they’re coming from. Just because someone is not interested today doesn’t mean there might not be interested in the future. By listening for clues to someone’s current situation you might address those issues later on. For example, age of children, downsizing situations, dissatisfaction at work, facing college finances, etc can all lay the foundation for changes in someone’s circumstances. Listen. Listen. Listen. Make mental notes. Improving performance includes separating what you’re hearing from what is really being said. You do this by listening actively. The more you talk, the less you learn. The more you listen the more you learn. I know I talked about listening as an important part of acquiring new customers. It is equally important in any business community.
Improve your Presentation
How you present your company, its products/service is another key element to your success. Learn everything you can about what you offer. How well do you know your competition? Are you clear about what differentiates you and your company, service or products from other similar companies? Why do you do what you do? What drives you? People are interested in your story. People buy from people they trust, that are knowledgeable and who exude confidence. People will buy from people who appear successful, deliver their message with sincerity, and personalize their experience. Here’s where your stories can have a major impact. Your performance will improve as your stories resonate.
Create conversations. Act on those conversations where you establish a connection. The three strategies I focused on for improving performance included managing your time more efficiently, listening actively and improving your presentations.
Let’s face it, the marketplace is crowded. How you develop as an individual and the value you bring to your career, organization or employment will have major impact on your level of success. Don’t underestimate the importance of improving your performance if you want to get ahead, build your reputation and open doors to new possibilities!
Is this helpful? Please let us know in the comments your thoughts on this as well as other ways we can help you with your career and training.
NOTE: This article appeared in Womens Ally.