Poor Listening Habits

Great salespeople are good listeners.  But most would concede that being a great listener would not be commonly attributed to the stereotypical salesperson.  All of us have some poor listening habits that we may be able to get away with when talking to family or friends, but in a business environment, it’s a different story.  How you listen is habitual; it’s a skill that has been developed (or underdeveloped) over years.  And to improve something the first step is to recognize what areas might need to be improved.

Here’s a good list of some poor listening habits that you might want to improve.

  • You monopolize the conversation.
  • You interrupt when people talk.
  • You never look at the person talking or indicate that you are listening.
  • You continually toy with a pencil, paper, or some other item while talking.
  • Your poker face keeps people wondering whether you understand them.
  • Because you never smile you come off as too serious.
  • You change what others say by putting words in their mouth.
  • You put people on the defensive when you ask a question.
  • You ask a question about what has just been said, showing you weren’t listening.
  • You start to argue before the other person has a chance to finish.
  • Everything that is said reminds you of an experience you’ve had and you feel obligated to jump in with a personal story.
  • You finish sentences for people if they pause too long.
  • You wait impatiently for people to finish so you can interject your own comments.
  • You overdo the feedback you give – too many nods or the head or “uh-huh’s.”

Every one of these sends a clear message to your conversation partner that they are not important to you and, as such, contributes to lowering levels of trust and rapport.

We subscribe to the 70/30 theory.  Since you were given two ears and one mouth, you should endeavor to use them in roughly that proportion.

“If you want to be interesting, be interested.” – Paul Harden

There are two types of people.  You know them well.  Those who come into a room and say, “Well, here I am,” and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are.”  Which one are you?

Self-Study Assignment:  How many of these poor listening habits are you guilty of?  Make a list of the things you will stop doing immediately and how those improvements will help you.