Learn to Listen so That You can Listen to Learn

I spent the last few days thinking about everything we’re facing right now in our world and even things that are going on in our industry, and what I’ve come up with is that we can’t communicate. Communication’s a big problem. Most importantly, listening is a big problem. All of us want to talk. Nobody wants to listen.

Look, it’s no secret. We got a lot of stuff going on in our country right now. And as I sat this weekend, thinking about all of the things that are happening, the one thing that stuck out to me more than anything else is we have a communication problem. It’s not just the things that we see happening in the media; it’s across the board. Think about how many divorces there are. Think about how many fractured homes there are. And I don’t want to get political, or religious, or anything in this article, but it proves a point that we just don’t know how to communicate. And for me, the biggest thing that I need to work on, and I feel like all of us need to work on is how to get better at listening. See, we need to learn to listen so that we then listen to learn.

When we go into appointments, we should be asking open-ended questions. That’s basic, basic sales 101. But what happens when you ask that question? How actively are you listening? How do you show your prospect or your client that you’re listening to them? What are the things that you’re doing? I want to talk about three things today that you can do to improve your active listening. Now, I’m not going to get into something like sit at the edge of your seat and lean forward so that you appear more engaging or make good eye contact. I want to talk about subtleties.


The first one I want to talk about is mirroring. Mirroring is where you repeat the last one to five words that someone said, just very casually when you’re talking, and it validates that you heard them and, psychologically, they feel like you’re on their side.  So, if I was talking to a client and the client said, “I am so sick and tired of my insurance premiums going up,” I would probably say, “Yeah, your insurance premiums are going up. I get it.” I just mirrored what they said. That is a very active listening technique, and then an outward validation that you heard and understood what they said.


The second one is labeling. Labeling is when you label the emotion or feeling that this person has. So, if they said, “I’m sick and tired of our insurance premiums going up,” I would say something like, “I hear that you’re frustrated by the current level of your insurance premiums.” You just validated the frustration and the angst that they have towards what’s going on.


The third one is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is different than mirroring. Mirroring is where you’re using the last one to five words that the other party use. Paraphrasing is when you take that same information, and you put it in your own words but repeat it back to them.  So, in the same scenario, if someone says, “You know, I’m sick and tired of our insurance premiums going up,” I would say something like, “I can understand that this was probably a huge strain on your budget this year because the costs were more than what you had anticipated.” Now, I didn’t repeat exactly what they said, but what I said identifies with what they said.

Blend the Techniques

Now, if you want to take things and make them more powerful, use a combination of two or three of the techniques we have covered. If someone says, “I’m sick and tired of our insurance premiums going up,” “Yeah. Your insurance premiums are going up, and I can get it. I bet you’re frustrated because of the strain that this put on your budget because you didn’t plan on the premiums being as high as what they were.”


If you can do those things and show that you’re actively listening in any kind of an interaction, whether it’s your spouse, your kids, your parents, clients, prospects, whoever you encounter, and you focus on listening to mirror, label, paraphrase, or blend any of the three, you’re going to kill it in commercial insurance, but more importantly, you’re going to change the world. People want to be heard. Are you listening?

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