“Active Listening” Is Not A Technique

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Catching up on my reading, I ran across an article on Active Listening. It was focused on sales people and the author made the statement, “Active listening makes them feel like they are being heard…..”

I’m sure that’s not what the author intended to communicate, but it got me thinking about many other things I hear and read about active listening.

Active listening–at least true active listening is not a technique. We know some of the things we do in active listening–playing back what the individual is saying, mirroring, probing/questioning. These are all very important and very helpful in understanding.

And that’s really the point of active listening–it is to understand, it is to want to learn, it is to truly care. Active listening isn’t good because the other party feels like they are being heard, active listening works because the person is genuinely being heard.

Active listening enables us to see things from the customer point of view–not just factually, but emotionally. We get to understand their hopes, dreams, aspirations. We get to understand their fears, concerns. We can’t listen actively if we aren’t engaged.

Can you imagine, listening, while browsing texts on your phone, nodding sympathetically and periodically saying “I feel your pain….” Yeah, I know I’m exaggerating, but sometimes the discussions on active listening seem like variants of this.

Ironically, active listening/engagement generally begets active listening/engagement. That is, when we are genuinely listening, actively, the people we are listening to will also tend to start listening actively.

Then we–each person–become engaged in a conversation. Then we become engaged in learning/discovering. We become more open to different points of view. We become empathetic as opposed to sympathetic.

People buy from people who listen to them. People buy from people they trust, people buy from people who care. People buy from people who can and want to help them succeed.

This only starts with genuine active listening.


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Author: Dave Brock

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