Listening to persuade

As a sales rep I used to sell a program called, " Connecting with Others, Listening and Speaking" which was an early "influencing" program. It was two 3.5 hour classroom modules. One on listening and one on speaking persuasively (in that order). And (almost) every time a client wanted to buy it they told me "We don't need the listening part, just teach my leaders how to speak persuasively..."

So then I would take the time to understand what was driving the need to speak persuasively to their teams; Ask questions to get specific examples of how this deficit was impacting business (all the while modelling the skill of listening) and then; lead the client through how listening builds the credibility to be heard when you speak.

Here are a few examples of what happens when you listen to your employees, customers, acquaintances or friends:

  • You understand (not assume or guess) what they think about a given situation - saving you time

  • You are encouraging them to speak up

  • For employees, you gain insight into how they are doing their job, which allows you to tailor development / delegate tasks to their current level

  • You learn about them as a person which means you are...

  • Building trust and rapport EVERY. SINGLE. TIME you listen. This links to intrinsic motivation

  • They are able to articulate their thinking / reasoning better by speaking out loud than just "speaking to themselves" in their heads - by listening you are letting them teach themselves

  • You increase the likelihood of employees staying longer with your organization

  • You get insight into the values, beliefs and assumptions allowing you to frame your ideas in a way that lands well with them

  • You learn how they describe the situation allowing you to use their terminology so you can connect more readily with them too


This is the nth post about listening and as a leader, consultant and coach for 30+ years I can tell you listening is the most under used and under rated leadership skill out there.


You have two ears and one mouth... Anyone listening?


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