2 of 4 Top Barriers to Listening (with tips)

This month’s A Chip off the Block newletter is all about listening. Now for some things that get in our way – with a tip or two on how to work through it.

1. Preconceptions
In every conversation we go into, we have an assumption of how the other person is going to respond.

Take cold calls, even great salespeople go into a cold call expecting resistance.

Many of us have heard “you don’t get what you want, you get what you expect!” or some variation on that theme.

The crazy thing, is that we tend to listen for what we expect NOT what they are saying.

Work on going into every call with the preconception that everyone needs what you do. Perhaps you’ll find that you hear that more often than not!

Action Item: today, right before your calls – take a deep breath and let it out (I know it’s sales not Taijiquan or Yoga.. let go of THAT preconception too) tell yourself to really listen.

How will you know it’s working?

  • pace of the call slows down
  • there are more pauses, because you need a moment to think AFTER they stop talking
  • you recognize more verbal/non-verbal stuff (ok so I have to coin a good phrase for that – you know the grunts in agreement, hmmmm, etc)

Best of all –  you hear opportunity, even if the prospect doesn’t realize it themselves (yet).

2. Your Environment
Many telesalespeople are sitting in the gray cubes of love right now!

And most of the cubicles aren’t full height so you’re in your own space, but open so everyone feels like a team!

This is great for camaraderie and learning… not so great for listening!

In Gray Cubes of Love land there is always the:

  • Loud talker
  • Butt-er into the conversation
  • Hovering coworker
  • Gossip
  • Know it all

Add in the overhead music, pages, and the random people walking past your desk… you got it, your environment isn’t all that contusive to listening.

Do what you can to make your individual work space as distraction free as you can!

Action Item: take a look at your work space – do you have visual overload? Does your computer monitor look like a sunflower with all your post-it notes surrounding it?

Right now take EVERYTHING down.. yes I said everything. Start with a blank slate – keep it close in a drawer; only take out the things you NEED today!

My guess is there are notes/resources/things you haven’t really seen in a while – even though they are right in front of you…

How does that apply to listening? Well if we are on visual overload OR autopilot – how can that fail to affect our ability to listen.

PLUS: If you know you’re easily distracted, a double (also known as binaural) headset would probably help.

I think that is more than enough to get you working toward chopping up those barriers to listening for today… look for two more barriers with tips soon!


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