There was a saying someone posted on social media, which went something like this, “most of the time, we don’t listen in order to understand, we listen in order to answer”. Too often, that is the case.
There was a time in my business where I knew my product so well that I had stopped listening. I just heard the first few words of the other person’s sentence and off I went, offering my brilliant answers. Then one day I head myself, the impatience, the lack of caring about what the other person was saying and I thought, that’s just wrong.
I decided I would stop that. I watched some videos about listening. And I paid attention. Now, when someone is talking to me, as my mind begins to jump into answer mode, I take a breath, quiet my mind and focus on what the person is saying to me.
In our business, listening is the biggest component of what we do. Well, I guess you might say with a company tag line that’s all about answering phones, that our business is answering, not listening, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. I believe it is truly about both.
First, we answer a call, then we listen to what the caller has to say. Based on the caller’s words, we then handle their call by taking further action. That seems straightforward enough.
But it’s not always that simple. Sometimes when people call in, they feel like they are taking up too much of our time, so we have to put them at ease. Other times, there is an underlying note of stress that the caller is not expressing with their words. There are others who are just very direct and don’t waste time on chit chat. Even if they are not unhappy with your responses or your services their tone could be interpreted as angry. Then there are people who are effusive, funny and outgoing. If you are that kind of operator, listening, when you can’t see the physical cues, is very important. People who are not naturally outgoing can be disturbed by us extroverts and it’s important to listen to their initial response and recalibrate our own demeanor to more loosely match theirs.
When we listen carefully and don’t just jump to the next step, we can be more helpful to that caller. If we hear a tone in someone’s voice that is telling us more than their words are, then we can perhaps ask if there could be something else more that we can do.
Listening is easier when we are face to face with another person. When someone is sitting in front of us, we can clue into their feelings, and the meanings behind certain words by watching their body language. We can’t do that on the phone. So, it’s important to understand that the best path is to remain as neutral as you can in response to what a caller is saying, and not get bogged down I what could be misinterpreted.
No matter whether you are face to face with a person, or on the phone, listening, really listening is important. So, try to become a better listener and see what happens in your life.
Central Comm, we listen.