Everyone could use some practice in each of the seven techniques identified by Dan Oblinger, Director of Training with the National Screening Bureau, during his presentation at the Chamber’s Sunrise Scrambler. Based on his experience and training as a hostage negotiator, Oblinger led an interactive program on Wednesday, June 18, about improving active listening skills. He reminded participants that listening is a perishable skill that always requires fine-tuning.
How can listening skills improve your company’s bottom line?
Oblinger shared an infographic produced by The Ken Blanchard Companies that illustrates how the failure to use active listening skills results in a lack of connection in the workplace. That lack of connection can produce higher employee turnover. Utilizing active listening skills helps you and your employees improve customer service, retain clients, improve internal coordination and efficiency, negotiate effectively, minimize risk, and sell your products and services.
Are you already an active listener?
Oblinger joked that, “Baseball is supposed to be the national pastime, but I think it’s actually interrupting people.” Don’t give yourself an A+ for active listening if you’re daydreaming during conversations, interrupting people, asking people to repeat themselves, distracted by your digital environment, one-upping the conversation, listening only long enough to decide what you’ll say next, or interrogating.
What are the seven proven techniques for improving your listening skills?
With audience participation Oblinger clearly demonstrated how asking the right open-ended questions requires less energy and provides more insight into the speaker’s values and motivation. Minimal encouragers (positive eye contact, nodding, and smiling) are powerful ways to alleviating the speaker’s fear of rejection and demonstrate your interest. Effective pauses acknowledge that what the speaker has to say is important and that it is their turn to talk. Mirroring allows the listener to demonstrate that understanding about what the speaker is sharing. The most important technique for customer service is emotional labeling, or the opportunity to verbalize understanding of the overriding emotion that they are experiencing. Requesting confirmation of the identified emotion and explaining how the emotion will be addressed provides the best customer service experience. The conversation can then be moved forward with paraphrasing or summarizing the key concepts the speaker has shared. Finally, using “I statements” communicates feelings without making assumptions or judgments about the speaker.
Our thanks to Dan (@natsbdan on Twitter) for his insight into how active listening can improve our relationships with our clients, colleagues, and family members. Special thanks to Emprise Bank for being our Sunrise Scrambler Presenting Sponsor, Eberly Farm for providing a unique venue and breakfast as our Host Sponsor, and Davis-Moore for being our Showcase Business Sponsor.
Check out the 29 photos posted on our Facebook album from today’s event and be sure to tag yourself. We’ve also posted a photo on Instagram. Please consider following our blog at wichitachamber.org and be entered to win a pair of tickets to see Graham Colton on June 26 at the Orpheum Theatre (part of the Emerging Artist Series).
Make your reservation for the July 23 Sunrise Scrambler when Social Media and Marketing Manager Aaron Wirtz (@AAronWirtz on Twitter) presents information about how to define social media success for your organization, develop your brand ambassadorship, and identify social media myths. We’ll see you there.