I just finished a very frustrating phone conversation with the company that provides my phone and internet service. The word “communication” is in their company name, and the reason I am frustrated is the person I was dealing with had no idea how to communicate effectively. The conversation made me feel as if my business was not appreciated and my perspective was not important — only the perspective of the person on the other end of the line.
After patting myself on the back for being a great communicator, I realized that, at times, I need to be reminded of the art of communication and how I am making my customer feel on the other end of the conversation. While I would like to think I get it right every time, I realize I must constantly remind myself and those I work with of three basic principles of communication:
- The Most Important Part of Communication Is Listening.
Good listeners gain insight while others just gain information. Insight, information beyond the obvious, is what enables us to truly help customers make good decisions. Many times, I find myself listening while the other person is talking, but in reality, I am thinking about what I am going to say next. I am not truly hearing what they are saying. Most importantly, I miss what lays beneath the surface, and that is often the key to helping the person.
Every customer has a sign around their neck that says “Listen to me.” When we seek to understand their point of view, their situation and needs, then they know they have been heard. When you show respect by listening to the customer, they’re more likely to reciprocate. They’re also more likely to continue to share their thoughts, which increases the likelihood of success.
- Never Interrupt!
My frustration with my “communication” company was the other person constantly interrupted me when I was talking. That immediately made me feel as though what I had to say was unimportant.
We provide solutions all day and our mind is full of information that can help our customers. So it is only natural to be anxious to share that information. I find myself at times interrupting with a solution to what I think the problem is. Only to find out a little later in the conversation that I had jumped the gun and now my credibility is gone. Interrupting not only discourages the other person from sharing any further, we lose credibility and the opportunity to truly help.
- If You Can Repeat It, You Win!
Nothing shows a higher level of genuine interest in what the other person is saying than your ability to repeat to them a point they made or an objection they raised. It’s not of primary importance that they understand you. It is essential that they know you have understood them.
People love to hear their ideas, thoughts and input. And the person who listens intently — even to the point of taking notes as they listen — will always win. Whether we are attempting to get a member of our team to embrace an idea or sell a product to a customer, the one who shows genuine interest in others wins. If they know you are interested in what they have to say, they will be interested in what you have to say.
I needed those reminders and I trust they helped you as well. Great communicators create great success. After giving it some thought, I called my “communication” company and shared with them that, while I had a bad experience, it served as a reminder I need to always be focused on the art of communication myself!