In his first blog James Loder, Proposition Director, takes a look at how being a good listener can help you and your business, why listening is important and how you can become a better listener than you already are.


Becoming a better listener can be a powerful asset for you in business, and in life, so why is it so important and how can you become a better listener?


In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which was published in 1989, and is still widely read,  Habit 5 is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”


When explaining this Habit, Covey points out that our education and socialization has placed an emphasis on teaching us how to communicate (reading, writing, speaking etc), but doesn’t prepare us to really listen to what others are saying.


In The One Minute Manager, by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, the authors say the best way to engage people is to allocate time to listen to them as listening helps to solicit feedback and proactively find out about issues and is the only way to get to know people as individuals and ensure that they feel genuinely valued.


Employee engagement platform, Waggl, recently asked 500,000 business leaders, HR leaders and consultants whether they believed listening to their employees was critical to an organization’s success, and 97% of the responses said yes.


So, how can you become a better listener?


Listening is a bit like a muscle, requiring intention and training, so here are five best practices to help make effective listening a habit:


  • Give 100% of your attention, or do not listen

Put down your phone, close your laptop and make eye contact with the person speaking.


  • Don’t interrupt

There’s a good chance that you interrupt more than you think, so resist the urge to interrupt before the speaker indicates that they are done for the moment.


  • Ask more (good) questions

Listeners shape conversations by asking questions and good listening means asking relevant questions that progress the dialogue. Ask questions based on what the speaker is telling you and, if in doubt, one of the best questions you can ask is, “Is there anything else?” This often uncovers alternative information and unexpected opportunities.


  • Reflect

As good listening requires training, it’s important to reflect on your performance. So, when you finish a conversation, reflect back and think about any missed opportunities or moments you ignored potential leads or remained silent versus asking questions.


  • Create space in your day

It’s difficult to listen when you are rushing from one task to the next, so make some time in your day, so that when you are talking to someone, you can give them your full attention, without distraction.


Got a question for us about General Insurance, our proposition or this blog? Ask away!


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