Listening is about clearing your own mind and actually absorbing what another person is telling you. It’s really important in counselling studies and if you are working as a counsellor. Turns out, it’s really important if you are a human, who interacts with other humans too.
My tag line came from listening. In both senses of the word. It came from hearing my clients when they kept saying I really heard them, and sounded like them. It also came from actually listening to them, that’s how I got the lovely feedback. I like to think I finally found the mid point between my transferable skills of writing (public service work) and listening (counselling studies). I love what I do, and I love who I get to spend my time with now. And it all comes from listening, not writing as you might expect.
I’ve recently met a particularly inspiring business publicity coach and am reading her book. Something she wrote really stuck with me:
“I’ve learned to ensure that I’ve fully listened to other people, and that they are at the end of their point.”Jemimah Ashley, Position Me
She’s right. Listening involves letting someone else get to the end of their point. I’ll take that one step further, it also involves letting the client know you have heard them and acting accordingly. This is the key to good business relationships.
Tip #1 Active Listening in Business – Reflecting and Paraphrasing what you hear
When I first studied counselling, our workbook (Ballantine, Kopp & Postings, Counselling Skills & Studies) talked about how to actively listen to another person. It talked about reflecting, paraphrasing and summarising what a counselling client is saying to you. These skills really help me in my every day.
When I am taking a brief from a client, or even just meeting them for the first time, I often paraphrase or summarise what I hear, sometimes as I ask a question. For example, “Oh wow, making jewellery sounds really interesting, what materials do you work with?”
Of course, I could just have said, “Interesting” and left it there – but that is not going to build connection (or get me the information I need to sound like them when I write!).
Tip #2 Build Know Like Trust with Open Questions and Disclosure (and Connecting)
My counselling course discussed the importance of these open questions and of self disclosure in building therapeutic relationships. When to use them and when to not. Most of these concepts are applicable to making another human feel heard in both personal and business contexts also. If you hear something you can relate to or want to know more about, ask, or share. It really is that simple and it will make another person feel heard!
I remember talking to my Grandmother many years ago about her experience as a Lifeline volunteer. She recalled sitting and practicing looking into another trainees eyes and talking about personal experiences. She always understood what I was talking about as I discussed my counselling training. I wonder if maybe her training led her to be the amazing woman I knew. Grandma always made me feel heard. And valued. And worthy. I miss her.
Self disclosure, you possibly picked it? My Grandma was so important to me that I used her name in my business, when I could have just been Beth Baldwin. And now you know how important she was to me. Maybe you are now thinking of someone else who made you feel that way?
What if we could connect with everyone this way? Grandma did. Friends who only met her once would remember how she made them feel too.
Appropriate self disclosure brings us closer as humans, and builds know, like, trust relationships in business. An example of an open question if we were talking right now would be “Tell me more about your Grandma”. As opposed to a closed question, “What was her name?”.
Back to business.
Tip #3 Do something with what you hear
How is listening relevant to business? Let me answer a question with a question – If you don’t listen to your clients or customers, how will you ever know what they want? It’s that simple. If you provide your customers with what they want, they will come back.
So yes, listening relevant for all our businesses, whether you are using it consciously or successful because you are and have always been a great listener.
And if you want something written, in your voice, please get in touch. I promise to listen before I write. I’m a copywriter who listens…