The art of good listening

woman listening

Communication is the keystone of any successful business. You need to be able to effectively listen and understand the differing needs of your clients and potential clients, in order to accurately and effectively help them.

This is especially important when you’re in a service-based business, such as that of a Virtual Assistant, as you need to not only hear and understand what your clients are asking you to do, you also need to ascertain what they’re not saying AND find ways to implement those requests.

So it’s fair to say that you need to be a good listener, in order to increase your productivity, effectively manage your time and to minimise mistakes! So, what skills do you need to master, in order to be a good listener?

You need to:

#1: Pay attention to what’s being talked about AND who is doing the talking. This is all about giving the speaker your undivided attention – and not looking over their shoulder or searching on your laptop for emails or internet sites.

#2: Notice the non-verbal clues. Communication is dictated by both speech and body language, as well as the tone and pitch used, so be aware of these different types of signal.

#3: Keep an open mind and empathise with the other person. Go into every conversation with a view to understanding both sides of the conversation, not just yours.

#4: Have a good memory! Being able to recall names, dates and past examples is a great skill for any VA to have, as it shows, not only that you were paying attention, but that you were interested in what was talked about too.

#5: Keep focused. Focus is one of the biggest skills a good listener can have. Why? Well it doesn’t just ensure you’re keeping to skill #1 (paying attention), it also enables you to link pieces of information together and devise solutions for your clients, based on what’s being discussed.

#6: Clarify and confirm. If you’re a more proactive type of VA, as mentioned above, it will enable you to link information together – this is a step on from that. It’s about clarifying and confirming your understanding of what’s being spoken about and the role you may play in the broader picture. This doesn’t just mean becoming a yes/no type of person, it’s about asking questions, repeating important points and confirming if and how, you can help move your clients towards their desired end goals.

Finally, skill #7 is to have patience. Not everyone has the gift of getting straight to the point! Give your clients time to finish what they’re saying, without jumping in to finish their sentences for them. Give them the chance to pause and catch their breath, without fearing that their opportunity to speak has passed.

The ability to become an effective listener ensures you’ll be both an effective and approachable VA. In practising the above seven skills, you’ll ensure a productive, interactive and effective relationship with all of your clients – regardless of how good or bad their communication skills are!

Do you consider yourself a good listener or is it something you need to work on? Does this article help give you specific skills to work on to improve your listening skills, or do you feel there are any not currently on the list, that you’d like to see added? Why not share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Image courtesy of kalim/AdobeStock

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