3 Things NOT to do When Listening

You’re going to see a common theme in all my stuff for the next little bit. And it all has to do with listening. In the most recent post, I talked about three things you should do to listen actively. Today, I’m going to talk to you about three things you should not do.

The Problem

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re going to be doing a lot of talking about listening for the next little bit because I believe that it’s a significant problem.  A problem that is manifesting itself in current events, but also for some of us, a lack of production. See, here’s the thing. We are so concerned about going out and letting everybody see how smart we are that we don’t realize  sitting back and listening and asking intelligent questions wins way more than vomiting information all over the table ever will. Today, I want to talk to you about three things you can do to make sure that you are listening appropriately. And these three things aren’t things you actively should be doing. They’re things you actively should not be doing.

Don’t Get Distracted

The first one is you have to make sure that you are not distracted. We are in an era where it is easy for us to get distracted, phones, watches, all kinds of things. Looking around the room, if you are listening to someone, you got to make sure they have 100% of your attention. I can tell you, I never take my phone in to a meeting and lay it on the table or have it in my pocket. I put it on Do Not Disturb, and it goes in my briefcase on the floor, far away from me. I don’t want to be distracted by my phone. Now I need it because I may need to forward an email that has an agent of record letter attached that I prepared before the meeting, but I don’t have it out on the table actively.

Don’t Get Impatient

The second thing is I never wear my watch because I don’t want to be looking at the time. That’s old school sales training. You don’t want to have your watch on looking at it constantly because when somebody is talking, and you’re looking at your watch, they feel like you don’t want to hear what they have to say, which leads me to my second point, which is you can’t be impatient. So many times we ask a question and when somebody gives us an answer, we fidget, we look at our watch or worse, we interrupt. We’re so confident that we know what they’re trying to tell us that we rebut to them before we ever get their full answer out for us to be able to hear. You’ve got to be patient. Sales is as much psychology as it is anything else. Part of that psychology is learning to set your agenda aside and listen to what people are telling you.

Don’t Forget the Visual

Here’s the third one, and this one, to me, is the most important. See, people think two ears, one mouth. Listen more than you can speak. Guess what else we have two of? We have two eyes. You have to be a visual listener. There are so many clues that you are given in a meeting when someone’s talking that you miss them if you’re not watching; if you’re not looking at body language; if you’re not watching how they position themselves; if you’re not watching their hand movements and how animated they are when they’re talking about things so you can see what’s bothering them or what gets them excited.

I went through an excellent training when I was in retail. I worked with Target, and one of the things they taught us to do was to notice things about people. I would challenge all of you to go through this exercise at some point. What they did was they took two of us and sat us across a table from each other, and for five minutes, you had a conversation. Your goal was to notice everything you could about that person while you were talking with them. At the end of that five minutes, you went to the hallway. The other person stayed behind, and they were required to modify as many things about their appearance as they could while you were in the hall.

Then, you were brought back in to have another conversation. And during that conversation, it was your job to notice everything you could that changed about that person. Think about that. How successful do you think you would be if you had to go through that exercise? Now think about that as you prepare for prospect meetings because it’s no different. You’re not going to go in the hallway and come back five minutes later and have to notice things that have changed, but you can notice things as you’re actively listening to them, as opposed to completely missing the boat by not visually listening at all. See, we have to become better listeners as parents, as friends, as colleagues and team members, as bosses, as salespeople, and even as buyers. It’s time we take our listing game to the next level. If you can become devoted to entrenching yourself and learning to listen and learn what to do and what not to do, you will kill it in commercial insurance.

Until next time:  Kill or get killed!

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