Listening 4 The Purpose

When Performance Matters

Customer Service Training - Listening:     The Purpose

 

Most communication is used to influence an individual or an outcome.

Therefore, defensiveness is always possible on behalf of those involved, and this may make it difficult for them to “hear” accurately what is being said. Deliberate attempts to exploit or manipulate the listener will be counter-productive in the long run and will lead to a deterioration in the quality of the relationship. Even with goodwill assured on both sides, successful communication cannot be guaranteed.

Modes of Listening

Most people use the time during which others are talking to prepare what it is they are going to say. Although we like to believe that talking and listening goes something like:

You Speak

 
 

 

 


I Listen

 
 

 

 


I Speak    

 
 

 

 


You Listen

 

In truth it is much more like:

You Speak

 
 

 

 


I listen-evaluate-listen-plan-listen-rehearse-speak

 
 

 

 


You Listen

 

 

Even “good” listeners are often guilty of evaluating critically what is being said before attempting to understand what the speaker is trying to convey.

The result is that they often jump to premature conclusions about what the speaker is driving at. This, rather than assist the flow of communication, only disturbs it.

A well known study some thirty years ago found that a broad based sample of business people spent an average of 70% of their waking moments in communication. Out of all of this time communicating, writing took about 9%, reading about 16%, talking about 30%, and listening some 45%. It may just be a quirk of education, but the amount of time we typically spend being taught each of these skills is in inverse proportion to their eventual use. In fact, for the most part, we are never taught how to listen - it’s assumed that listening happens automatically.

Listening and Hearing

“Hearing is a physical reaction to sound waves, wherein these waves are translated into understandable signals for the brain. You are hearing things at all times, both signals you want to receive and many you don’t. Listening, on the other hand, is an active process in which you consciously pay attention to what you’re hearing” .

Levels of Listening

Apart from the simple distinction between listening and hearing, there are of course several different levels of listening. Each level demands an increasing intensity of concentration - moving from superficial listening through to active listening.

•    Superficial Listening

Customer:

“What I really need is to be certain that delivery is on Friday.”

Customer Care person:

“Right. Sure. I don’t see why we can’t manage that.”
(... I wonder what’s for lunch ...)

Poor concentration, physical or mental distractions, taking too many notes, and racing ahead to think through the next question are all causes of superficial listening. The prime result of this low level of listening is misunderstanding. Additionally, if perceived as such, this lack of attention can only aggravate the customer.

 

 

•    Evaluative Listening

Customer

“What I really need is to be certain that delivery is on Friday.”

Customer Care person:

(Defensively) “We operate a very efficient manufacturing plant and deliver as quickly as possible.”

 

Evaluative listening requires more concentration than superficial listening. However, whilst there is obviously more attempt to listen to the customer, evaluative listening rarely results in a common understanding of issues or concerns. The evaluative listener tends to concentrate on his or her immediate response, rather than an understanding of the customer’s underlying intentions.

The dangers of evaluative listening are quite obvious – any assumption is in danger of being wrong. Not only that, but opportunities could easily be missed where Health Super has a unique combination of capabilities which closely match the customer’s needs.

 

 

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