5 Tips To Improve Your Listening Skills
One of the greatest skills that you can pick up in both life and business is to become a good listener. This is especially important when you're learning how to start up a home based business as there is a wealth of good business advice out there to help you on your journey!
Read on to discover why good listening skills are vital for growing your home business!
The Purpose of Good Listening Skills
Productive people need to be good listeners who fully embrace conversations without allowing their mind to wander – something not all of us are capable of.
As a home business owner, listenening carefully will allow you to:
- Build up a strong rapport with your clients - vital to keep them coming back to you!
- Reply to questions you are asked with really relevant answers.
- Improve your powers of negotiation.
- Pick up on any underlying meanings of things said to you.
Skills in listening becomes a crucial part of your business life.
What Makes Listening Difficult?
Sometimes our emotions and surroundings can have a direct effect on the process of effective communication and listening. These are evidently much harder to control so focus on listening tends to diminish during these times.
Paying attention to your emotions and surroundings and how you are communicating is again vital to the whole process regardless of who you are talking with; these are some of the barriers that tend to affect your listening in a negative manner:
- Worry, fear or anger.
- A short concentration span.
- Noises around you.
- Existing bias or prejudices.
- Language and accents.
Our home working lives can be so busy that we may think we're listening when people speak to us - but are we really paying attention? If we're under pressure to get a project finished it can be tempting to keep sneaking your eyes back to your computer screen whilst somebody's talking, but this means you might be missing vital pieces of information.
Easy steps can be taken to combat distractions and improve your listening and speaking skills by:
- Slightly leaning toward the speaker, showing that you are giving them the attention they deserve.
- Maintaining eye contact (but not staring uncomfortably either...).
- Never interrupting the speaker; wait until they finish.
- Nodding your head (but not excessively) to indicate you are taking in what they are saying.
- Repeating any instructions given to you, and asking appropriate questions once the speaker has finished talking.
- Sitting still; you may not think you are a fidgeter, but just stop and see next time you are talking to somebody. Are you swinging on your chair, absentmindedly doodling on your notepad (my own bad listening habit) or just generally fiddling with things on your home office desk?
Having a good set of listening skills doesn’t mean simply hearing what the speaker is saying, but also picking up on their non-verbal clues. Actions, facial expressions and posture are all important parts of communication, and paying attention to your speaker's body language as well as their words will help you to understand the full meaning of what they're saying to you.
Mirroring somebody's body language will also encourage them to relax into the conversation and put their trust in you. It goes without saying that this should be done subtly however; doing a crude impression of a client during a home business meeting won't have the effect you are looking for at all!
How Essential To Sales Is Listening?
The number one skill for a salesperson used to be the ability to talk, and do it well; the idea that a product was sold on the story the client had been fed was thought to be the best selling tactic.
As times have changed and freelance sales people have (hopefully!) moved away from cheesy lines the industry has focused their skills on listening.
It can be difficult to persuade old-style sales people to change their ways; talking has been long been their preferred tactic, and such habits are hard to drop, but if your home business utilises sales people then you should always encourage them to change their ways.
The skill of listening plays such a vital role in any kind of business transaction that it mustn't be neglected. Spend time learning how to improve listening skills once starting a business from home.
Check out our Business Advice features for more useful home business tips!