I always say that communication – GREAT communication – is the ‘alpha and omega’ of a successful business.
In online or remote delivery service-based operations such as Virtual Assistant businesses, it’s absolutely critical. If your communication (written and spoken) is not up to scratch, it will definitely impede your efforts, and could actually sabotage your success in the long run.
You might be reading this right now thinking… “that is not a worry for me – my communication is amazing. My spelling, grammar and attention to detail is top notch so I am fine”.
Well, whoa up there a second before you scroll past this post… what about your LISTENING?
Are you really hearing what is being said?
Are you even conscious of your listening abilities?
Communication is a two-way street, but most of us focus on our ability to speak and write in a correct and easy to understand manner, and we forget about the importance of tuning into what’s actually being communicated.
You may have heard the term, “Active Listening”, but if not, here’s a few quick pointers you can use to assess and improve your listening skills:
There is nothing more annoying than trying to speak and being interrupted constantly. It may be well-meaning… perhaps you are trying to ‘help’ the speaker by filling in the gaps you think they’re missing, or you’re in a hurry and you’re just jumping ahead for them. Don’t do it! It’s rude and it’s a signal that you’re actually not listening at all.
Are you really listening, or waiting for a gap in the conversation so you can speak?
Many people are unaware they do this, but it happens often… You’ll be speaking with one or more individuals, draw a breath and you have someone hijack the entire conversation without letting you pause and finish. Instead, practice listening with intention… as well as giving you an opportunity to possibly learn something, to really listen with interest and intent is one of the greatest compliments you can pay to the person speaking.
Listening involves using not only your ears, but your eyes too!
Look at the person speaking, make eye contact, watch for non-verbal cues (you’ll see it in their movements, gestures and eyes of course).
Focus on more than words
Try and focus on the message… what are they really saying?
Listen with empathy
Try and understand how it is from their perspective rather than jumping to conclusions based on your own thoughts and life experience.
We have two ears and one mouth… I reckon that is a fairly good clue that we need to listen twice as much as we tend to speak.
And remember, people who feel heard and understood will ultimately be much more comfortable and at ease with you. You will more easily be able to build rapport with them, and it will enable you to deliver a better service because you’ve not only heard, but you have taken the time to understand them!
Food for thought I say!