Listening: The Key to Effective Business Relationships

Successful smiling young male job applicant holding a blue file with his curriculum vitae posing in front of his new work colleagues or business team.jpegHere’s a little saying that you might have heard before. “When you rearrange the letters in the word ‘listen’ you get ‘silent’.” The point being that if you are quiet, you will be a good listener. Perhaps, but there is more to effective listening than simply remaining quiet while others speak. In fact, there’s so much more to listening that it can be called the key to effective business relationships.

Any good department head, corporate office or sales manager will tell you that one quality of a great leader is the ability to listen to what is not being said. This skill of audibly “reading between the lines” is one of the subtle but powerful differences between a supervisor and a true leader. The leader will be the one who can develop long-lasting relationships whether it be with employees, coworkers, clients or vendors.

Knowing What To Listen For

I’m sure – at one point or another – you have heard someone say, “Yes, that’s what she said, but that’s not what she meant”. Understanding the behavioral aspects of those under your charge is one way to greatly improve your listening and relationship skills.

Regardless of which profile you might turn to for assistance, most companies who deal with behavioral analysis agree that four common styles exist. The behavioral style of your peers and employees also has a profound impact on their preferred communication style. Once you’ve determined which style individuals may fit into, you boost your ability to listen, to respond and to build solid and productive relationships.

Knowing How To Respond

Another key to listening is knowing how to – or if you should – respond. One story I once read told of a man who was always extremely popular at his office. Others from all around the organization would stop by to talk with him about their challenges. To hear this man tell the story, he really didn’t do anything. But when you look deeper, you find that he understood “human nature”.

He had a natural talent for knowing who needed responses from him and who simply wanted to get something off their chest. With certain people, he knew he should give short responses such as saying “yes” or nodding. With others he instinctively knew that he should remain silent throughout the entire conversation. And still others expected (and received) a dialogue from him during their conversations.

Most people, however, don’t posses this natural ability. When you communicate with an employee, peer or customer without knowing their expectations for the conversation, one of two things usually happens. Either they might come away thinking you were completely uninterested because you offered no response whatsoever; or they might think you were overbearing because you continually interrupted them while they were speaking.

Being able to define the expected response that will help you further the relationship is a vital tool that you, as a leader, need.

Organizations who place a premium on their business relationships are finding that their sales personnel, customer service agents, operators, receptionists, assistants and leaders all become exceedingly more relationship oriented when discovering how behavioral styles impact communication. They also find that true listening and relationship building come much more readily once these tools used. Is your business striving for relationship growth with customers or vendors? Listening is the key.

For additional information about specific workshops, assessments and coaching programs that can benefit your organization in the areas of communication, sales, goal setting, team performance, job placement and conflict resolution, contact Kathi Graham-Leviss of XB Consulting today.