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10 Tips for Successful Listening

In my last blog post, The Importance of Strong and Focused Open Ended Questions in Teleprospecting, I briefly highlighted how critical it is to wait for a response when you ask a question. The goal of open ended questions is to get to the most critical part of the conversation, the part where you are no longer the person talking. Before you get there, make sure to brush up on the top 10 list for listening. Despite the fact that we should come to the phone with lots of experience (after all haven’t we been listening all of our lives?), when looking at Edgar Dale Cone of Experience, it is pretty easy to see there is a big difference in simply hearing compared to actively listening and participating in a discussion. In teleprospecting, active listening is one of the key skills you need in order to be successful. Especially since you are going into the conversation without the advantages that nonverbal communication often brings: being able to read the body language of the speaker and utilizing your own body language to show the speaker you are listening.

Here are my top 10 tips for successful listening:

  1. Don’t interrupt. A key to being a good listener is to reign in the desire to speak. Allow the person to finish before asking another question.
  2. Don’t think ahead to what you are going to say next. When you do this, you often miss key information that you could have followed up on.
  3. Take good notes! This ties in closely to the 2 previous points: when you are not interrupting and focused on what the contact is saying, you will find yourself catching some important details without an opening to follow up right away. You will likely find you need to circle back to a certain topic later in the conversation.
  4. Ask a question and then wait for the answer.
  5. Avoid distractions (the person sitting next to you, the fact that your lunch break is 5 minutes away, etc).
  6. Don’t get bored – keep your focus on what is being said.
  7. Listen to the tone of voice.
  8. Let the other person know you are listening by using words like