By Ross Wilson

“Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody.” – Helen Gurley Brown

In this segment of my series on effective communication, I offer this slightly abridged excerpt from my book, The Happy Agent. Here, I address the Art of Listening, arguably the more vital half of effective communication.

When you think about it, poor listening renders speaking superfluous. In today’s hyper world of instantaneous digital communication, you might even say listening to clients is becoming a lost art.



Anyway, it’s something people take for granted. You’ve got ears, so it’s automatic. Right? Nope. You might think you’re listening to clients, but may be hearing your inner voice, remaining alert only enough to recognize the moment to respond. By failing to pay sincere attention, thus misinterpreting a speaker’s message, reactive and emotionally inappropriate responses are definitely within the realm of possibility. And whether a personal or business situation, a price could be paid for such inattentiveness.

Have you ever met someone who had what is commonly referred to as the gift of gab? They may have been told they’d make a great salesperson. Why? Because the stereotypical perception of a salesperson is one who can blather on and on and talk anyone into doing anything.

In reality, this definition couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s little doubt, though, that some salespeople fit this description. I’ve never met anyone who enjoys being coerced to buy something by an aggressive, high-pressure yakker spewing verbal diarrhoea. To escape the barrage, I suppose a pathetic prospect might surrender.

However, just like a teacher can’t teach someone who refuses to learn, a salesman can’t normally sell to someone who doesn’t want to buy. If they don’t run away, the victim may sign the contract, later regret succumbing to the pressure and exercise their right to rescind. The buyer cool-off period for new condominium and vacation timeshare purchases exists for good reason. Also, if a high-pressure agent closes a hapless buyer, they shouldn’t count on that buyer ever referring anyone or returning for future service.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus

Given the chance, a client will deliver their hot buttons to you on how to sell them. The trick? Listen carefully. A gabber can miss important, sometimes subtle closing signals. While awaiting cues, they talk right past the clues. My theory is that they may be so fearfully insecure and desperately in need of a sale, they’d rather not hear what they believe their client might say if given the chance to speak. Therefore, they yammer away in the hope of offering so many good reasons to sign that the overwhelmed prospect finally surrenders.

How can you successfully satisfy a client’s wants and needs without knowing what those needs are? Sometimes, they don’t even have a clear picture of what they want. If you don’t know what makes them tick, what motivates them, how can you serve effectively? Thoughtful, considerate listening by a trustworthy agent facilitates a clear response to a client’s questions and the gentle orchestration of a more pleasant sale – without the trusting buyer even realizing they were sold. To enjoy a fruitful career, build a trusting client base by starting in the present listening moment, one client at a time.

In the next column, I’ll delve into the three basic types of listeners – Wanderers, Catchers and Engagers.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey

1 COMMENT

  1. A great message. When I asked one of my latest clients why they chose me over the three others they specifically pointed out the fact that I listened. It was great to hear (pun intended).

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