Issue 5 of The Art of Listening
Step 2: Ask More Questions
You read it right, ask another question or two or three. You are now in serious curiosity mode.
The skill of slowing down the conversation is the most effective listening tool you have.
Use the same questions you asked in Step 1.
Your questions should be in direct response to something the customer said. Do not ask a question for the sake of asking a question. Keep in mind at any time during your conversation, if you are unsure of what to say, ask a question.
I’ve been able to sustain lengthy conversations just by asking questions. It doesn’t matter if the other person is just chatting or has a problem they want me to solve. I’m focusing all my attention on them, not me.
Step 3: Get the Gist
The next step is for you to get the gist and summarize what the other person is saying. Do not minimize how powerful this is in building a relationship. You are sending a message that you’re willing to hear the other person’s point of view. When you summarize, you are purposefully slowing down the other person’s thinking process. The process of summarizing what the other person is saying takes the burden away from you to say something or problem-solve. This is good. You are not ready to provide answers or solve problems.
You can say:
- Let me see if I got it . . .
- Are you saying…
- Let me understand this…
If the other person corrects you, then summarize again until the other person agrees with your summary.
After you have summarized, your friend or customer will feel understood.
Recommended reading: Critical Connections - The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing by Evan Leepson, MBA