Become a more effective listener by following these three strategies. These simple techniques are good listening habits to develop when speaking to your clients.
Listening habit #1 POSITIONING
Did you know that the way you sit affects your listening capabilities? I am not talking about hearing: this is about listening and making sure you focus on those key words, language and tone that mean you will be able to help your client effectively and without missing a thing.
Sit facing your client. Preferably without a desk between you. Sit square on, and uncross your arms, legs and most of all, wear something comfortable! Restrictive clothing will not only make you feel uncomfortable but it will distract your concentration.
The brain can shoot off in any direction and can be easily taken off course. There is nothing worse than asking your client to repeat what they’ve just said because your trousers are cutting into you. Especially if it is something that has been very hard from them to say. It will not look good if you are shifting your sitting position. This is not only distracting for you but very distracting for them. It is a lot harder to get back trust once it has been broken in this situation.
LISTENING HABIT#2 Summarizing
One vital tip is to always summarize at comfortable intervals what has been said to you. Repeat it back to them in a language that doesn't sound like memorising, which is something completely different.
Speak slowly, making notable gaps where the client can make alterations if need be. This is a clever tip as it will help you think about your next question while you summarize.
It will also tell your client you have been listening and this will help them bond with you.
Summarizing what my client said was something I didn’t consciously think about until I sat my counselling course. Watching the tutor carry out this strategy first off was rather like watching someone saying something back parrot fashion. It didn’t look right at first to be honest, but after a while, with some practice, it was a highly effective method to grab a few minutes to think about what you were going to say next whilst reminding yourself of what had been said to you.
LISTENING HABIT #3 Mirroring and Matching
Mirroring and matching is a key strategy that takes a lot of practice, but after a while you will be able to do this and listen at the same time.
Mirroring is used in NLP and is the art of connecting with someone on a more subconscious level. Once you have found the ability to connect easily with your client or the person you are taking to, the easier it will be to help them and give them advice that they will carry out.
We connect on a level that either reminds us of ourselves or reminds us of the person we would like to be. Once we establish a connection through mirroring their pose, behaviour, tone and language, they will be able to respond to us more effectively. It will also help us not only understand their problem better, but it will help us listen more effectively to the underlying words that are not being said, thus giving us a better understanding of their map of the world.