Listen, with Respect – and Don’t Forget Empathy

 “To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more that just their ideas get heard.  It’s a sign of respect.  It makes people feel valued.”  (Deborah Tannen).
Listening is an essential and underutilized service behavior…  Every day you have the opportunity to strengthen your relationships with staff members and customers by listening to them and helping them see the power that comes from “knowing” their customer.   
Joseph Michelli, Prescription for Excellence

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It starts here – with listening.  All customer service, all business interaction, requires the attention given by you to the person on the other end of the interaction.  And that starts with listening.

And there are some very physical aspects of listening.  For example, where are you pointing your face, especially your eyeballs.  I use the word “eyeballs” on purpose.  The words “eye contact” seem to no longer be strong enough.  So how about this:  “eyeball to eyeball contact.” 

So, if you point your eyeballs at the eyeballs of the other person, you have a much better chance of actually listening to them.  Here are some places to not point your eyeballs when you should be listening to a person:

At your iPhone
At your computer
At someone else walking by
At a book or a magazine

Or anywhere else – except the person you are listening to…

And then, to genuinely listen, when the other person is talking, you actually listen to what he/she says, both the words and the body language.  You do not take the time while someone else is talking to “figure out what you are going to say next.”  You listen to the other person, and then, after a pause, it is your turn to speak.  You pay attention to that other person, and then you respond to that person.

Listening may be the ultimate sign of respect.  And everything else flows from good listening moments.

(And, remember – it might be even more valuable to remember to listen with “empathy”).

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