I had some gruesome feedback from a mystery shopper the other day! It was a prelude to an outstanding training course “Cold Calling For Professionals” delivered by Lingo Telemarketing. I found out that I was hard to get hold of, a little brusque to talk to (since I was just about to start to work with a client) and didn’t press the speaker for their name and contact details.
However, last Wednesday (13th June) there were a lovely group of businesspeople assembled in a warm and encouraging atmosphere. We tried out some amazing ways to win the support of the gatekeeper and attract the attention and interest of the decision maker – just by questioning and listening intelligently. It converted me from a procrastinator when it comes to making that scary call, to an enthusiast who feels that the people on the other end of the line are eager to help. No mean feat!
Listening is a skill. It’s a gift to the speaker. In my work I’ve seen how transforming it can be. Those who were suppressed, lacking in confidence, unhappy, negative or stonewalling and aggressive transform into dynamic, generous and positive people with confidence.
A friend and colleague, Chris Mobbs has posted a fascinating article “6 Exercises To Strengthen Compassionate Leadership” for his Twitter Followers to read. Amongst the list of approaches to inspire loyal, dedicated and passionate employees – things like, ‘Stay Present’, ‘Observe Non-Verbal Clues’ and ‘Speak Briefly’ was joy of all joys, ‘Listen Deeply’.
To listen deeply – whether you are cold calling or having a board meeting – you need to have ALL your attention on the speaker. Tell me, how often do you give that sort of attention? I confess, even though I earn my money through listening, I catch myself out all too often. And then, you address what is being talked about. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Though all too easily I fall into the trap of making reference to a previous conversation or to a different topic.
The times when I’ve listened deeply, it can be magical. The energy in the room surges and both myself and the speaker get caught up in a vortex of thought, light, ideas and creativity. It connects seemingly unrelated pieces into a vast, satisfying whole. It can sometimes even be akin to a mystical experience.
If being listened to deeply can do this, it can change lives as well as workplaces. It’s the most influential thing you can do.