We all have a “one-upper” in our lives.
You know, that person who dove deeper, held their breath longer and came up drier.
We don’t really look forward to communicating with this person, because they don’t listen to us.
And when we know someone isn’t listening, we don’t feel connected to them.
The inverse of this is when we encounter a person who really listens to us, we’re drawn to them. We desire to communicate with them because we feel seen and heard. And when someone makes us feel good about ourselves, we like them. And when we like someone, we naturally trust them. And when we trust someone, we’re more likely to believe their opinions, knowledge, and experience.
Now if you’re in the business of sales, this should be at the top of your list of priorities. You have a product or service that can improve their lives and solve their problems, but they first need to like you in order to trust you enough to do business with you.
And one of the fastest ways to likability and trust is active listening.
Active listening is the practice of being fully present in a conversation. Of listening to what a person is really saying, rather than gearing up to tell your own story or using what they last said as a jumping-off point for your own opinion. Your goal in active listening should be to comprehend what the other person is communicating and offer empathy and support.
You’re not stuck in your own head. You’re not rehearsing what you’re going to say next. You’re not interrupting. You’re not multitasking. You’re not “one-upping.
Active listening deepens emotional intimacy and increases comfort for both parties.
You’re focused on that person, fully. You’re making eye contact. You’re leaning in. You’re showing a genuine interest in what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. You’re asking open-ended questions. You’re paraphrasing what they said to make sure you understand. You’re non-judgemental and open. You allow moments of silence, instead of trying to fill them out of anxiety.
“Listening, I believe, is the missing half of communication.” This TEDx talk explains the importance of listening, and you need to watch it.
So when we say Listen First, Sell Later, it’s simple physics at work.
If you want to decrease friction to selling and influence, you need to increase the comfort level of your customer. And active listening is one of the most effective ways to make someone comfortable, deepen your connection, and turn a prospect into a partner.