Messages from the Masters
Do More Than Listen! by Paul J. Meyer

The poorest part of communication is listening!

Mastering the art of listening will catapult you ahead of the pack. The following is a summary of 20 articles, and years of personal experiences, on the subject of listening:

When others talk, do more than listen! Study their faces!!

* Their emotions will be reflected in their facial expressions...from exasperation to concern.
* React to those feelings with your own head movements.
* Sharp listeners do more than establish eye contact and avoid fiddling with paperwork of checking their wristwatch as someone speaks to them. They also use non-verbal cues to underscore their desire to pay attention...

Move Closer

In the midst of a conversation, a sudden background noise such as a whirring computer printer or a sputtering vehicle engine can interfere.

* That's when you should reduce the distance between you and the speaker.
* Lean toward a speaker to indicate you want to capture every word. That makes the speaker feel more important and sends him the message that you are determined to listen.

Set The Stage

* If you invite someone into your office, don't seat them in a plain metal chair while you're planted in an oversized leather seat. Instead, arrange for both of you to sit in the same types of chairs.
* Also, come out from behind your desk or counter so that you can listen without impediments.
* Remove barriers between you and the speaker. This improves the speaker's feeling of being listened to because you've equalized the interaction. You want to be equally visible and aligned with each other.

Let Your Eyes Wander

Don't assume you must maintain eye contact 100 percent of the time. Such intent staring can make a speaker self-conscious.

* Once in awhile, glance away to think or process something you hear. Then remember once you disconnect eye contact, restore it soon.
* Some listeners look away and then tune out for good. Visual stimuli may cause them to daydream, so they don't return their eye contact to the speaker.

Calm Down

If you're itching to interrupt, it will show in your body language. You may sway from side to side or nod too much, as if to say "Yes, you've made your point; now you're repeating yourself." This can make a speaker feel rushed to finish, skipping key information.

Listen for understanding rather than listening to respond. That way, you'll keep an open posture. You'll avoid crossing your arms to indicate you're closed to the information coming in.

The Result

It will be clear that you're listening with the intention of learning, rather than waiting for the right moment to rebut.

Go The Distance

Once you strike an attentive listening pose, stick to it! If you quickly lose interest, it may show in the way you recline in your chair.

* You can tell when impatient listeners stop listening and start thinking of what they want to say next. How? They appear less riveted to the speaker and more preoccupied. They may pounce on any pause to jump in and redirect the conversation.
* But you'll learn more and build stronger rapport by signaling your desire to wait out even a talkative speaker.

Moving beyond mere "eye contact" will forge and amazing bond between you and your prospective customer!

All the best,
Paul J. Meyer

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