- Face your customer and give him, her or them your complete and undivided attention.
- Show you’re paying attention through your own body language. Sit up straight, maintain good eye contact, uncross your legs, unfold your arms, and lean forward slightly.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Respond appropriately to show that you understand by nodding your head in agreement.
- Encourage your customer to give you more information by using open-ended questions such as “How did you feel when that happened?”
- Keep an open mind and don’t jump to any conclusion or make assumptions. Wait until your customer has finished speaking before deciding that you disagree.
- Don’t interrupt your customer when they are speaking.
- Ask questions for clarification and periodically summarise comments. Paraphrase your customer’s key statements to make sure you didn’t misunderstand their point of view. Start with: “So if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying…”
When people are in conflict, they often contradict each other, denying the opponent‘s description of a situation, according to the Colorado consortium. This can make people defensive and shut down or get angry. However, if they feel that they are negotiating with someone who really understands their concerns, they are more likely to explain in detail what they feel and why. If both parties to a negotiation do this, the chances of being able to reach an agreement becomes much greater.
To find out more about being a good listener, visit the International Listening Association.