“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
It’s important that we listen to our visitors and customers and not only so we can respond to their question, but so that we can understand how we can better serve them and how we can meet their needs.
When you are listening to someone, look at his/her eyes; eye contact shows interest. Also use nods and gestures to let the speaker know you are listening. You can also show that you are paying attention by using appropriate facial expressions. No one wants to see a big smile when they are telling you a story about their iguana dying.
Unless you have to excuse yourself to take care of another customer or you do have someone who really has been talking non-stop for ten minutes, don’t interrupt. A pause should not be a signal to start talking, take a little more time to make sure they have finished. Count to four slowly before you jump in.
Hearing is even more important than listening. Our hearing can be impaired by our judgments of people. Sometimes we assume what people are going to say or what they know by the way they look. We all judge, it’s human nature – just remember you may not be right. If we open our minds and our ears we will hear our customers much more clearly.
When it’s your turn to speak, be aware of your body language, as well as your tone of voice. These things are just as, if not more important than our words, as a lot of how people construe meaning is through facial expressions, body language and tone.
Take some time to practice listening to understand and make an effort to really hear what your visitors are saying to you. It will make a huge difference.
As GK Chesterton (one of my favorite authors) said, “There is a big difference between hearing and listening.”
A tip of the glass from me to you!