In a recent Ignites article titled What Makes a Bad Wholesaler? Poor Listening Skills the results of an advisor survey were published that asked:
“What do you believe is the biggest mistake that wholesalers make when pitching to or serving advisors?”
First on the list of seven responses was “Being too pushy and sales oriented” with 30% of the polling results.
A close second was “Having poor listening skills” which received 25% of the vote.
Not at all surprising is the fact that advisors don’t feel like we listen.
And, if you are perfectly honest with yourself, you know you have been guilty of listening only for the purpose of figuring out where in the conversation you can jump in and make your point and/or pitch your product.
Fact is you can become a better listener – and it starts by understanding that:
- there are distinct styles of listening,
- you are predisposed to use one style more than others,
- you can begin the process of exercising the ‘muscle’ around the style(s) that you need improvement in
But first, let’s agree that there is a BIG difference between Hearing and Listening.
Hearing only allows you the ability to have the sound waves that hit your ears make their way to your brain.
Listening is the ability to put meaning to what you have heard.
Two vastly different concepts – especially when you are trying to develop/advance a relationship with an advisor.
So Why Is It So Hard To Listen?
For starters, while all information we received is heard, we are all guilty of filtering or changing 70-90% of the data we take in.
It’s just what humans do.
That is compounded by the fact that we are prone to edit (selectively interpret) what we hear as we process the information.
In addition we need to guard against Tuning Out which, for example, can be caused by:
- Advisors who speak too slowly (our brains are under-stimulated)
- Advisors who talk too fast (our brains are over-stimulated)
- You and the advisor having different agendas regarding the very purpose of the meeting
And, as if the deck is not stacked against us enough, the processor in our brain is capable of listening at 500 words per minute, but the average person speaks at only 150 words per minute!
With a gap of 350 per minute you’ll naturally tune out – unless you make a concerted effort to listen.
What Are The Five Listening Styles?
Most of us tend to think that we are either listening, or not.
But it’s far more complicated.
The bigger question is how are you listening?
The research presented by Improving Communication Through Positive Listening Approaches from Inscape Publishing offers the following listening styles:
Appreciative Listening is the listening mode that you are in when you are out for dinner with friends or at a concert.
Your mission is simply to relax, smile, and enjoy.
It’s pretty easy listening.
Comprehensive Listening is a style that is best described by the mode you are in when you have asked someone for directions, after being hopelessly lost, at night.
Your intention is to comprehend, often by clarifying what was said, to make darn certain you have the information understood correctly.
Discerning Listening kicks in when you are taking notes at a meeting for the purpose of sorting through all the details of that new product that is being launched.
Since it’s a killer product you are completely attentive, concentrating hard on what is being said, and doing your best not to be distracted.
Evaluative Listening occurs when you are trying to figure out the validity of a message.
It’s the skeptical listener in you.
You are looking for facts to support what you are hearing and filtering that message based on your own set of beliefs.
That’s Only Four – What’s The Fifth?
The last listening style is the one that we fail at most often.
In fact, in the listening assessments we have done for wholesalers, this style consistently shows up at or near the bottom the list:
The great wholesaler has developed their ability to listen with empathy.
That means that:
- Their body language is open and welcoming.
- They are not interrupting AND they let the advisor do most of the talking
- Their interest in the advisor’s thoughts is verified via eye contact and nodding
- She uses verbal responses such as “I see” and “I understand”
- He labels the feelings the advisor expresses such as “I can see how that would make you angry”
- They ask questions that are open-ended
Are There Any Tricks To Listen Better?
Try to read the lips of the person you are listening to.
Theory being that to engage the sense of hearing and the sense of sight at the same time leaves less room for the brain to wander off.
Published in 1957 in Nations Business, Dr. Ralph Nichols wrote Listening Is A 10 Part Skill – get the PDF here
Even over 55 years ago listening in business was a challenge.
Improving Listening Skills at Speaker Net News.
Listening is more complex than you might have imagined.
And it requires the same attention to improvement as the other elements of your practice.