Want to build a better relationship and connection with another person? You can start with the age-old communication tip: make eye contact. Who can argue with that? It’s sound advice. Yet I think there is more contact to be made…with your ears. Use your ears to focus on not only hearing what the person is saying, more importantly, to understand what they are feeling.
With our e-world, many of the clients I work with rarely or NEVER see their prospects or customers to make eye contact; they must focus on ear contact more than ever. Good thing, because for decades people have quoted Dr. Mehrabian’s statistics on communication effectiveness: 58% is based on body language (including eye contact), 35% on tone of voice, and 7% the actual words we use. They use these percentages as a way to support that we must see eye-to-eye to be effective.
Overgeneralizing these statistics has caused much debate in the research community on its applicability to all communication situations. I think, whether the actual percentages are accurate or not, it makes the point…COMMUNICATION is complex!
That is why I propose that we should be more concerned with ear contact than ever before.
Yes, some may call it listening—I prefer ear contact. Why? The term “ear contact” stresses the active listening component to effective communication. We are always in CONTACT with the other party…we aren’t just waiting to talk—we are connecting to their words, intent, emotion, and therefore their ‘hot buttons’ that can make or break our sales!
The definition of contact (from dictionary.com) is “immediate proximity or association.” Isn’t that what is important in every conversation we have? We need to be in immediate contact to the person, their problems, opportunities, wants, and needs?
Increase your active listening with these 4 tips for effective ear contact:
- Listen without distractions. Stop the multi-tasking! No matter how good you think you are at multi-tasking, be assured you’re not as effective as you think. You cannot listen and really understand the message from someone else if you are doing something unrelated (checking emails, making a note on something else, or shooing away a co-worker).
- Take notes on key points. Writing key ideas down or typing them into your computer can be effective in staying focused on what they are saying. A caution though, too much focus on writing can lead to missing the context of the message.
- Summarize your understanding of the words and context of the message you hear to verify what you heard is what they wanted you to know.
- Pay attention to the intent and emotion that comes with their words…the pauses, hesitations, and background noise will give you more information on the message. These nuances also give you great follow-up question opportunities. “I hear you hesitating, please tell me why.”
You will be a better communicator, relationship builder, problem solver, and seller by increasing your skill in active listening. Good ear contact allows you to hear opportunity … that you can then translate into sales.