There are numerous self-help books dealing with how to listen effectively, communication and negotiation skills in general, and other skills like presentation. But what happens when the person, for instance, a customer or prospective client, whether face to face or on the phone, doesn’t listen, or whose thoughts wander away?
There are strategies to make people listen. One important thing to do is choose the right time to talk. There’s no point talking to a person who is busy and focused on something else. It can even be more of a challenge when the person on the other end of the line is a prospective customer.
Concentrate on the Other Person
Concentrate more on the other person rather than to self and what’s going to be communicated, although they all work together. In the case of face to face communication, the clue will be signaled by body language, while on the phone, it is more listening for clue, including long silences or pauses. The other person also may be distracted by someone else in the workplace.
Address the Other Person by Name
It’s a human factor – everybody loves to hear the sound of his or her name. Even if someone’s mind wanders or drifts off, the sound of the name can pull one’s attention back. It also helps emphasize important points during the communication process.
Practice Tact and Respect
The worse thing than can be done is intimidate, patronize or alienate the other person. Respect and tact should be practiced at all times. One example statement can be, “I might have left something out, do you have any comments or further questions?”
Keep to the Point and Highlight Important Information
It is easy to be distracted and the other person’s mind can wander easily. Keep to the point to retain their interest by not overloading the person with too much information. It helps to emphasize important points during the communication process by saying something like, “this point is really important in relation to…” or something to this effect.
Encourage the Other Person to Take Notes, if Needed
This is one way of keeping the other person actively involved or engaged, and it is to encourage them to take note, if they prefer to. Sometimes, the other person may want to take notes but they prefer to wait for a cue if it is possible to do so.
Provide Allowance for Feedback
The other person – customer, manager, supervisor, or colleague – should be allowed to feel comfortable asking questions and making comments without being interrupted. Their points of view should be acknowledged accordingly, even if means repeating something already said. Also feedback is important when you are looking for a job and you should send some thank you letter or something like that.
These tips are worth practicing. To quote an old popular Chinese Proverb: “To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.”