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Listen With the Intent to Understand

I recently sat at my desk listening to a recorded conference call by Dr. Ellie Drake, another network marketing professional. It was an effective teleconference about developing listening skills and learning to connect to people with ease. The crux of the training call was the art of empathic listening.

Empathic listening requires you to ask a question and WAIT for the answer. But while you’re waiting, you’re LISTENING with the intent to understand, not with the intention of replying.

Did you catch that? Listen with the intent to understand. Don’t listen with the intent to reply.

This means not thinking about what you want to say while your prospect is talking. It means to really focus on the words they are saying and what is going on in their mind. Without judging. Listen to their words, watch their body language, and focus on the speaker completely.

It’s easier said than done. It takes practice and it doesn’t always happen. Drake suggests to observe the speaker’s feelings, emotions and inflections. Without judging, without trying to fix or solve anything. Just listen with your intuition and pick up on their feelings. Then state your observations about their emotions, without judgment and a tool belt in hand ready to solve their problems.

The idea, particularly in network marketing, is to stop pulling people into our business, to meet them where they are, without judging. Then, by meeting them where they are (emotionally), and validating their experiences with empathic listening, you open the door for them to make the choice to follow you into your opportunity. Once you understand your prospect – or more to the point, they feel like you understand them – then you can attract them to where you are by using empathy to connect to them to what you have to offer.

Drake suggests using a pattern of “ask, listen, ask, listen, speak” to direct you efficiently to the root of their “pain” which may indicate a need for an affirmative buying decision. This isn’t just a recruiting idea. It’s a sales concept that applies to any attempt to earn an affirmative buying decision. Stop trying to make decisions about what to say when you should be listening.

Take mental notes when the speaker is speaking. When the speaker is finished, make observations about the emotional issues laid before you. Drake states, “The degree that a person will cooperate with change is exactly dependent upon their clarity on what their pain is.” It’s not about the degree of pain, but the clarity on their pain in their situation.

Asking the right questions makes a difference. Ask questions with a focus to understand their situation and their pain. Then listen. Ask another question about your observations. Seek to understand the speaker. Only after you’ve asked valuable questions that elicit emotional responses from the speaker, and sought to understand the person behind the emotions, then you can move them from where they are to where you are.

People are looking for opportunities year round. It becomes easier to recruit them when you seek to understand their needs first. Then – and only then – should you attempt to attract them to your opportunity. Once they feel understood, they look to you as a source of pleasure and an expert that can help them resolve their issues.

But wouldn’t it be nice if this happened everywhere?

What if the car dealer actually listened to what you wanted in a car, instead of bringing you the car he “knows” is just “perfect” for you?

What if your doctor took the time to listen to ALL your symptoms, not just the ones he can prescribe away? Now some Doctors ARE very good, don’t get me wrong, but many times, they are not so attentive.

What if the teacher at school really listened to what your child told them – and took it to heart?

What if your spouse took time to focus on what you were saying – not just with your words – when they asked you “How was your day, honey?”

There are rare gems in the world that do all of this and more.

But can you imagine how much better it would be if everyone was like this?