The Other 2 Top Barriers to Listening (with tips)

Hello, Welcome to part 2 of Listening Barriers – let’s get started!

3. Multitasking
I’m with Dave Crenshaw on this – Humans can’t multitask!

We wish we could, we believe that we can, we’re told to by our managers, etc.

The truth is that our brains are wired to do one thing at a time – this is especially true when we are having a conversation with another person.

If you are switching your attention between the person on the phone, your email, the internet, and everything going on around you….

“I’m sorry, what?”

is likely to come out of your mouth!

That is bad enough when we are devaluing our co-workers, family, and friends… what about prospects and customers who we rely on for our livelihood?

Plus they have a choice – NOT to do business with us because we aren’t paying attention!

And you may miss out on a business opportunity because you didn’t listen.

Need a real life example?

“Lynn I’ll pay you $100 cash if you can tell me what I just said”

Response “I’m sorry what?”


“I said, I’ll pay you $100 cash if you can tell me what I just said”

Nope, couldn’t do it NO clue

Luckily – that was one of my best customers at the time not a prospect! The only saving grace was that I had started to look up the information he was asking about…

Action Item: today try out a new idea. ONLY deal with the person on the phone. YUP – only!

Sounds like a simple idea – but in this day and age you may find giving your whole attention to one person… one task… EVEN for the 3 minutes you’ve got in a typical telesales prospecting call is VERY VERY DIFFICULT.

Sorry I’m back; got distracted by the email telling me I have a new blog registration. Then I saw my MindTools Newsletter had arrived- where were we?

How would that have felt if you were on the phone with me? That is EXACTLY how your prospects and customers feel ~ and it’s not good.

Which brings us to #4, or 3.5 as it is certainly part of multi-tasking that we do all the time, every day.

4. What Am I Going To Say
If you go with the idea that people can’t multitask for a moment….

Formulating your answer or the next thing you’re going to say – will eliminate your ability to listen.

Yup, you’ve switched your listening brain OFF to turn your thinking brain ON.

This of course includes the conversations we are having with ourselves while the prospect is talking – where we evaluate everything we have ever seen, said, done to figure out how to win them over.

When of course, the way to win them over is to LISTEN to what they are saying!

It is ok to be silent after someone stops speaking.  It is even great to say, “that is a great point, let me make sure I heard you correctly repeat stuff back to them they just said.”

THEN start to move forward with a question or comment.

Want another tip?

Tell the person what you’re about to do on your computer…. before you start:

  • Let me look that up for you…
  • I think I have the information you’re looking for…
  • There is an email here talking about…
  • Let me get a link for you to look at…

When you do this, they know the typing is about them! That they are important, that you are still engaged in the conversation.

No other action item for this… you’ll be busy enough listening if you expand #3’s action item to include your mental life multi-tasking!

From listening comes wisdom,
and from speaking repentance.
~ Italian Proverb


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