Listening Skills Competence
The KEY to Great Professional and Personal Relationships!



Are your listening skills actively engaged?



When you are engaged in conversation do you ever:

  • Wonder if the person you are communicating with has any listening skills at all?
  • Experience a huge sense of frustration because you get the feeling that you are not being heard?
  • Feel like you just can't get your message across?




Effective Communication is about GIVING and RECEIVING information


If information is given by the speaker but NOT received by the listener, then we have a problem………the lines of communication are not open - they are blocked!

This does not make for effective communication from either the speaker's or the listener's perspective.

Effective listening is very much about the listener actively participating in the communication process, it is not a passive response.

If you are a competent communicator your listening skills will be actively engaged!




If you truly want to be heard,YOU must demonstrate listening skills competence.

It's a two-way street - if your listener doesn't feel connected to you because they just don't feel you are demonstrating effective listening and you are not really hearing what they have to say, then chances are they are not going to be inclined to really listen to anything YOU have to say.

If you are building a network marketing business, or any business for that matter, it is imperative that you build rapport with your prospects, customers and business partners.

One of the most effective ways you can build rapport and great relationships with people both from a personal and professional perspective is to show them you really care about what it is they have to say.

So how do you show someone you really care about what it is they have to say?


Demonstrate you are Competent in Listening Skills………

In other words, you really do hear what they are saying to you!

And by hearing I mean, you hear more than the words they are saying!

If you are really practicing good listening skills you will get a feel for the emotions also being expressed as part of the communication process. This helps you to feel much more connected with the person you are communicating with and helps them to feel understood and appreciated. This in turn opens the door for building a great rapport between you!

I'll let you in on a little secret here………if you consciously work on and hone your listening skills you will be one of just a few people in this world who really do use their ears more than their mouth!




Network Marketing is a relationship business!


Yes, that is completely true. So what better way to build great relationships in network marketing but through putting effective listening into practice in YOUR business!

If YOU want to build YOUR network marketing business for long term sustainability and success YOU MUST build rapport with your prospects and customers, and strong relationships with your business partners. Listening skills are a key component of effective communication which is pivotal to building these relationships. Therefore, developing competent listening skills is paramount to relationship building success.

Let's put this in perspective……….

How do you feel if someone "really listens" to what you have to say?

What I mean is………they don't just stop talking long enough for you to get a few words out while they take a breath, they actually stop and listen and you KNOW they are listening because there are clear signs that listening is taking place.





If someone really listens
to what you have to say you feel:

Valued

Understood

Believed

Supported







Put yourself in the listener's shoes!


Don't you want YOUR listener to feel valued, understood, believed and supported?

If they do they are going to be much more open to what you have to say and in network marketing this is critical?

When you go about your day to day business building activities, particularly if you are talking with a prospect, don't you want YOUR listener to REALLY HEAR what you have to say?

Of course you do!

Ask anyone in network marketing that question and they will probably look at you like you have two heads! After all, isn't it our responsibility to talk to everyone that comes within three feet of us and just "TELL" them all about our opportunity and why it is THEY NEED this opportunity too!

But oh what frustration when you go through your spiel and you get the vacant glare…….. Don't you just hate it when you can see them shutting down - you know your message is just not hitting the spot!

Maybe there is a clue here………

Do we need to tell everyone we meet about our opportunity or should we FIRST be demonstrating effective questioning and listening skills that really help us to understand the person we are communicating with?

It is important that we understand from our communication with prospects whether or not our message is:

  • Relevant to them
  • Being given at a time that they may be open to what we have to say




Our aim should always be to CONNECT with people!


We need to connect with people in such a way that through effective communication, including applying listening skills, we can make an informed judgment as to whether or not they would be even vaguely interested in what we have to say about our network marketing opportunity. That means are they interested right now or would they ever be interested?

Sadly, in my experience in network marketing, and I would hazard a guess you've probably seen this as well, I have observed many distributors just bursting at the seams because they have the most exciting news on the planet that they simply MUST spew all over some poor unsuspecting prospect and they are just waiting for a pause in the conversation so they can do so!

How open are the lines of communication going to be in this scenario? Is a listener who is being "talked at" in this way going to feel valued, understood, believed and supported?

Hmmmmm………I suspect NOT!

So of course if we want them to really HEAR what we have to say we have to ask effective questions and then folks………you just sit back and LISTEN!





Listening skills competence will open doors for you in your business like you never thought possible!






And that's what you want for long term network marketing success!

When you communicate with people on a regular basis, (your prospects, your customers and your business partners) you MUST do so in a way that will ensure they ALL feel valued, understood, believed and supported.

The one sure fire way you can achieve this outcome with EVERY interaction you have is to develop your listening skills to a level of professional excellence.

Becoming a competent listener will change for the better your personal and professional communication forever and as a result you will experience not only improved personal and business relationships, but the potential for business growth beyond your wildest dreams!

The sad thing is however, so few people focus on this aspect of communication and as a result they are missing a vital link - a link that can quite simply be as important as difference between success and failure in their network marketing business.

You simply MUST develop competence in listening skills if YOU want to be successful in YOUR network marketing business.




Listening Skills - what are they?



How will I know them if I trip over them?

Let me take a couple of minutes to shed some light on this for you.

Let's consider these questions before we proceed:

  • What does someone who is demonstrating effective listening actually do?
  • What makes one person a better listener than someone else - what sets them apart from the crowd?
  • What, if any unique and special behaviors does someone applying effective listening demonstrate?


You know it is really not that complex once you know what you're looking for!

If you watch someone who is applying listening skills effectively when they are engaged in "face to face" communication you will notice that they are doing certain things that tell the other person that they are paying attention to them and are actively encouraging them to talk.

A good way to describe these skills is "LISTENING BEHAVIORS"

So let's look at these listening behaviors one by one - there are 9 of them altogether.




9 Core Listening Behaviors


When communicating with someone face to face the following listening behaviors will help you to "connect" with the person you are speaking with:

ONE:

Position yourself towards the other person - in other words - your position means you are focused on them - your attention is not wandering off in another direction

TWO:

Sit or stand about a ½ meter apart - if you are too close it can feel intimidating to the person you are speaking with. Conversely, if you are too far apart from the person you are communicating with the interaction can feel distant, aloof and not connected.

THREE:

Do not have anything that will form a physical barrier between you - if you are presenting to a prospect or customer or maybe coaching a business partner, NEVER have a table in between you and the person you are communicating with - this serves as both a physical and psychological barrier and will definitely hinder that important connection between you both. Instead, sit beside the table so there is no barrier and you can still use any presentation or coaching tools that you need to refer too.

FOUR:

Maintain an upright, yet relaxed position - you should sit/stand in a relaxed and comfortable position. Avoid slouching, crossing arms, sitting in a hunchback position or remaining completely rigid. These behaviors can all project attitudes that you don't want to convey if you truly want to connect with your prospects, customers and business partners. They can suggest non caring attitudes such as boredom, who cares, so what, when are you going to stop talking, I'm not interested in a thing you've got to say, etc, etc ………

FIVE:

Maintain eye contact - This is an extremely important listening skill - we've all heard the expressions - "the eyes are the window to the soul" or "if looks could kill" etc. We can learn a lot by making eye contact with people. Eyes convey all sorts of emotions - they can look sad or confused, they can threaten, laugh, and invite, just to name a few.

So just as eye contact is important to gauge emotions, no eye contact can also convey meaning. Think about how you feel if the person you are communicating with NEVER looks at you! It is so difficult to continue the communication as you just don't get the non verbal clues that assist you to develop the conversation further. Often people avoid eye contact when they are feeling nervous or want to avoid you.

If you never make eye contact with a prospect, customer or business partner during face to face communication you will most likely fail to get the information you desire from the conversation and neither of you will feel "connected" during the interaction.

Eye movements can help to convey the message to each person in the conversation that it is their turn to talk - often indicated by a lingering glance. Quick glances in the direction of the person you are communicating with will help you to see how they are reacting to what you have to say and also get an indication as to whether or not they are happy for you to go on talking because they are really interested in what it is you have to say.

When your prospect, customer or business partner look at you, resist looking away as this eye contact may well mean that they are trying to catch your eye to obtain feedback from you on what they have said.

It is important that you learn to use eye contact and eye movement spontaneously so that your communication and listening skills are as natural as possible.

In summary "the eyes say it all" - they are used to convey emotions, regulate conversation and to obtain feedback.

SIX:

Use head nods - One way you can really demonstrate your listening skills is to nod while you are listening to someone else talk. You don't have to say a word or interrupt their flow, but they will automatically know you have been listening and you have heard and understood what they are saying. You don't even have to necessarily agree with what they are saying, but nodding will give them a non verbal clue that you have heard what they said and take the message on board. Head nods can communicate very effectively to the person talking that you have heard, you understand, and please carry on talking.

One word of caution - don't go overboard on this one or your prospect, customer or business partner might think you've completely lost it and you are about to join the circus as a clown!

SEVEN:

Occasionally lean forward - This is an effective listening skills tool to demonstrate that you are interested in what the person is saying. Use this when something they have said is of particular interest to you and maybe you want to encourage them to say more about that particular point. As with head nods, don't go overboard on this one or the person you are listening too might think you are getting ready to pounce on them!

EIGHT:

Use facial expressions - don't be like the circus clown I mentioned before and wear a painted smile on your face! Be genuine with how you express your emotions and your facial expressions will reflect your feelings accordingly. Your facial expressions will go a long way to encourage the person you are communicating with and will really reflect that you are listening and taking on board what they are saying.

NINE:

Use verbal encouragements - For example, things like "OK", "so", "then", "And", "uh huh", "Tell me more", "Umm-humm", "Mmm?" etc……… these verbal interjections encourage the person you are listening too and help them to know you are hearing what they have to say and encourage them to keep on talking.




Applying listening skills to your network marketing business

As I said before, a significant part of building a successful network marketing business is about building relationships with your prospects, your customers and your business partners.

You MUST build rapport and connect with people in order to build great relationships.

Effective communication skills of which listening skills are a key component are pivotal in helping you "connect" with your prospects, customers and business partners so you can develop those relationships that will stand the test of time and help you to build a solid business now and into the future.


The listening skills or listening behaviors described here will be relevant to all your face to face communication, be they personal or professional.

However, more and more today network marketing is being done remotely and people are communicating long distance by phone or internet. Never-the-less, if you develop your listening skills so you are a competent listener then you will find that you are naturally authentic in ALL your communication.

You will be surprised at how these skills can be transferred to remote communication and even if the person cannot see you, your listening skills will be so well honed that it will be clear to the person you are listening too that you are really hearing everything they have to say and you are truly "connecting"!




Improving YOUR listening skills


For some people effective listening comes naturally - for many they need to learn, practice, and achieve competence in these skills so they can be more effective communicators and develop great relationships both personally and professionally.

The ONLY way in my experience to achieve a level of competence in any skill is to LEARN it, PRACTICE it and APPLY it.

So I'm going to help you out a little with this………

Here's a listening skills activity that you can use to Learn, Practice and Apply to the real world of YOUR network marketing business or any business for that matter. If you do this, you will develop competence in listening skills and you will reap the rewards both personally and professionally - I assure you!




Listening Skills Activity


Listening Skills Activity Objective

On completion of a 3 minute conversation between a speaker and a listener, the listener will:

  • Have demonstrated the "9 Listening Behaviors" as per the check list provided, and
  • Be able to provide a verbal summary of the key points given by the speaker during the interaction


NOTE:

All listening behaviors demonstrated by the listener will be observed and recorded by the observer on the "9 Behaviors" check list


Both the observer and the speaker will provide feedback to the listener on:

  • The number of listening behaviors demonstrated by the listener during the conversation
  • The accuracy of the listeners summary of the conversation
  • How the speaker felt/responded to the listener as a result of the listening behaviors demonstrated by the listener




How to complete the Listening Skills Activity


Get together with 2 other people from your network marketing business - preferably your network marketing business coach and a business partner from your team. You need a group of 3 people in total to get the most from this activity.

Set aside some time when you will not be interrupted in a quiet space.


There are 3 ROLES required for this activity to be of maximum benefit - they are:

  • Speaker
  • Listener
  • Observer


Use the "9 behaviors check list" below as a guide to complete the activity:

  • Position yourself towards the other person
  • Sit or stand about a ½ meter apart
  • Do not have anything that will form a physical barrier between you
  • Maintain an upright, yet relaxed position
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Use head nods
  • Occasionally lean forward
  • Use facial expressions
  • Use verbal encouragements


Decide on a topic you can use for a verbal interaction between the speaker and the listener - make sure you choose a topic that the speaker knows lots about - it could be something personal or business related. For example, the listener could ask a simple open question to get the conversation started such as:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What are your hobbies and interests?
  • What made you decide to start a network marketing business?
  • Where did you grow up and go to school?
  • What are your short and long term goals for your network marketing business?
  • What skills do you want to develop to leverage your network marketing business success?


These are just a few examples to get you started - there are many more…………anything that facilitates a good discussion will work well as a topic to complete this activity and get the most from it.




Start the Listening Skills Activity


  • Listener starts by asking the open question
  • Speaker responds to this question and talks for 2 to 3 minutes on this topic
  • Listener demonstrates as many of the 9 listening behaviors as possible during the interaction
  • Listener may need to ask more open questions to keep the conversation flowing for the required time period of 3 mintues
  • Observer tracks the time and records all listening behaviors demonstrated against the "9 Listening Behaviors" check list
  • Observer calls "TIME UP" when the 3 minutes is complete
  • Listener gives a verbal summary of the key points they remember from what the speaker has told them during the conversation
  • Observer gives feedback to the Listener on all listening behaviors observed during the interaction
  • Observer and Speaker give feedback to the Listener on the accuracy of the summary given by the listener at the conclusion of the conversation
  • Switch Roles - all three people involved in this activity should switch roles until everyone has had a turn to be the Listener, Speaker and Observer




As the saying goes - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!


And practice is exactly what you should do until you feel competent to implement listening skills into every conversation you have. When you develop competence in listening skills you will be one step closer to being a competent communicator - one that can build rapport and connect with everyone you come in contact with.

People will love you if they feel you have really listened to what they have to say. So many people today feel misunderstood and NOT HEARD because at the end of the day few people consciously develop their listening skills and that leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding.

So what does listening skills competence mean for you as a network marketing business owner, or any business owner for that matter?


Demonstrating competence in listening skills simply means this:

  • You will CONNECT with your prospects, customers and business partners and that connection will lead to develop great relationships.
  • Great relationships in network marketing means that your prospects, customers and business partners will be much more open to what you have to say
  • When the people you communicate with in network marketing are open to what YOU have to say because YOU have listened and shown an interest in what they have to say, YOU will experience trust in your business relationships.
  • People do business with people they TRUST, and that is all good news for YOUR business!





Take some time today to improve your listening skills

Try my quick listening skills activity

Practice until you develop competence in listening skills

And, Remember………

Listening skills competence is the KEY to developing great relationships in network marketing!







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