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Get in their head: the do’s and don’ts of being an effective listener

Your client buys solutions from you. But they can probably buy those from many sources; they also buy good feelings and you can differentiate yourself by understanding this.

One way to increase the good feelings clients get from dealing with you is by being a really good listener, so here’s some do’s and don'ts of good listening:

The Don’ts:

  1. DON’T ‘jump in’: The fastest way to stop a person from talking, especially about a challenging or confidential topic, is to jump in with your own comments.
  2. DON’T confuse understanding with agreement: Understanding what someone is saying doesn't mean that you agree with them. Whether you agree is not the issue in the listening process, so when you disagree you clamp down their discussion.
  3. DON’T confuse listening with discussing: Listening is a one-way process; it involves hearing and understanding a message that another person is conveying. To listen effectively your client needs your full attention, rather than seeing that you are trying to think of a response that suits you.
  4. DON’T indulge the need to correct errors: When people are expressing strong feelings, they often exaggerate or overstate the fact - sometimes in anger and with accusations. As we listen, we need to concentrate on hearing the message, rather than on correcting the facts. Some people believe that all they need to do is get the other person to understand the facts. But when strong emotions are involved, the facts are often not the issue. Being too eager to correct errors and clarify facts may interfere with understanding.

The Do’s:

  1. DO show genuine concern: Few people will share their thoughts or emotions unless they feel that the listener cares about their concerns.
  2. DO comment occasionally: Give brief summary statements once in a while as you listen. This assures the person that you're hearing and comprehending their message and allows them to correct misperceptions.
  3. DO read non-verbal messages: Most of the messages we convey to others are communicated by facial expression, body language, voice inflections, and other non-verbal means. To comprehend, you need to listen and observe.
  4. DO listen for feelings: Often the context, not the words, conveys the real way a client is feeling. People often express powerful emotions indirectly or imprecisely. The context of the discussion often conveys feelings and emotion beyond the meaning of the words. For example, your client may say “The results were not what I was expecting” which could reveal any number of emotions behind the words which you need to explore.
  5. DO set aside your own emotional reaction: Sometimes, what a person says to you will have an emotional impact on you. To listen successfully, you must set aside your own reactions and concentrate on comprehending their message. Listening is basic to all relationships. The better listening skills we have, the better equipped we are to develop relationships with clients where communication is effective.

“The most motivating thing one person can do for another is to listen.”



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STC, 300 Richmond Road, Grey Lyn, Auckland 1021 NZ
t: 09 215 9342 | 0800 736 462 m: +64 21 736 462
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Call STC on 0800 736 462