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Listening is one of the essential skills required not only in personal relationships but also in the business world. The ability to listen and select the most relevant information is especially crucial in outsourcing since without its efficient collaboration with the customer (as well as a first-contact resolution) becomes impossible (Brownell 19). When the customer feels that he/she is not listened to properly, he/she usually comes up with the conclusion that the provider of the service is not interested in communication (Stout-Rostron 43).
However, in many cases, we do try to listen but still fail to memorize important facts. This is the problem addressed by the given video: Even when people believe that they receive all the information they need, they usually skip some details that may turn out to be crucial for understanding the whole (“Test Your Listening Skills”). This may happen for the following reasons (DiSanza and Legge 13):
- When we listen, we have certain distractions that may divert our attention from the subject. If it concerns business communication with the customer, there could be various noises, people talking, and other disturbing sounds. If it is possible, distraction should be brought down to a possible minimum to give one a chance to concentrate on the topic of the discussion and stay focused in order not only to memorize facts but also to give the customer a feeling of priority.
- It is typical of the listener to assume that he/she already knows that the speaker is going to say especially when it concerns formal communication presupposing a repetitive set of questions and answers. It may seem quite reasonable; however, it prevents the listener from establishing a real connection with the speaker and identifying the source of the problem. Therefore, instead of interrupting and showing that you already know that the speaker means, it is better to allow him/her to explain the issue thoroughly in order to have a holistic picture of the situation and show your respect to the person.
- In many cases (mostly attributed to outsourcing), listeners are aware of the fact that they hold valuable information that the speaker (or the customer) needs, which makes them think that they need this communication less than the person who initiates it. If there is any kind of debates involved, they believe that they are unquestionably right whereas the customer is always wrong regardless of his/her arguments–as a result, they fail to listen up to the end.
More than a third of companies using outsourcing in service-providing industries acknowledge that their success relies on effective communication. Here are their major listening strategies (Stout-Rostron 52):
- Listening is a perfect way to show your commitment to the customer as he/she would certainly appreciate your full attention. You should do your best to make the speaker understand that his/her speech is not falling on deaf ears and the problem (as well as the person’s existence) is important to the listener.
- The process of solving a problem usually begins with careful listening as most of the required information can be provided by the speaker. In many cases, an attentive listener discovers a solution to the problem itself.
- Listening implies building trust and ensuring commitment. You are usually unrelated to the customer until you have to listen to his/her problems. However, this short-term communication makes the other person believe that you are personally involved in the matter and, in case you prove that you can listen and offer professional assistance, your customer is left with the feeling of personal significance, which will make him/her address you again.
No matter what kind of conversation you have, listening is the key way to prove your professional attitude to any business issue. Listening talent will always rank high among other valuable business skills. It not only shows you as a respectful and reliable person but also serves as a key factor in your branding that ensures high-quality customer service (Brownell 31).
Brownell, Judi. Listening: Attitudes, Principles, and Skills. Routledge, 2015.
DiSanza, James R., and Nancy J. Legge. Business and Professional Communication: Plans, Processes, and Performance. Pearson, 2016.
Stout-Rostron, Sunny. Business Coaching International: Transforming Individuals and Organizations. Karnac Books, 2014.
“Test Your Listening Skills.” YouTube, uploaded by The Professional Training Academy, 2014. Web.