The Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago offers communication tips from a motivational speaker.
Recession. Economic crisis.
A person cannot open a
newspaper these days without seeing these grim words scattered across the
pages. It is a reality that America’s business community must face on a daily
But how can a business continue
to sell and grow when everyone is scared to spend money? According to “Active
Listening,” a Webcast provided by a Chicago-area association to its members,
the answer is simple: go back to the basics and listen to what customers have
“In a slumping economy, businesspeople need to redouble
their efforts to succeed,” said Stephen Lamb, executive vice president of the
Mechanical Contractors Association of
Chicago, which provides educational opportunities for its members. “So we asked
Mark Matteson, a top motivational speaker, to help our members to fine-tune
their communication skills.”
“If we listen and ask the right questions, business
happens,” said Mark Matteson, founder of Pinnacle Service Group Inc., and the
host of the Webcast.
Matteson is a motivational speaker and speaks on such topics
as leadership, team building, communication skills, and customer service. In
the Webcast, Matteson outlines the merits of active listening, which he
describes as “listening to what a person is saying and being able to repeat it
back in your own words.”
Matteson’s presentation lists four steps to becoming a
successful listener: listen, pause, question and paraphrase. Each step is a
good way for webcast viewers to build confidence and knowledge as they develop the
skills required to really listen to what is being said.
In the first step, Matteson suggests not crossing your arms
as you listen to others, since it gives the impression that you are unreceptive
and not interested. He also suggests taking notes as you listen, to show you
are engaged in the conversation.
The second step reveals the importance of allowing pauses
during a conversation, so that everyone involved has time to process the
information being shared. According to Matteson, a short pause may mean the
other person is just thinking about what should come next.
If the customer is still talking to you, Matteson observed,
it means they are still interested in what you are selling.
“What they really care about is whether you care about them
or not,” he said.
The last two steps entail the all-important wrap-up of the
conversation, Matteson noted. When the client is finished speaking, the third
step is to ask questions, to make sure you both understand what has been said.
The last step is paraphrasing: simply repeat back, in your own words, what the
customer has told you.
After implementing these steps, Matteson explained, you will
know what the client expects and how to accommodate their expectations. Plus,
you will have built a rapport with the client that other competitors have not.
“In troubled times it is important that we put down all the
technology and get back to the basics. A little bit of listening can make all
the difference,” Matteson said. “People will tell you things they won’t tell
their barber, their banker or their best friend.”
Lamb noted that the listening skills taught by Matteson are
extremely valuable in business and cannot be replaced by e-mail.
“It may be tempting
to try to do most of one’s communications by e-mail,” he said, “but electronic
messages are impersonal and fall short in conveying enthusiasm. Nothing can
replace the warmth and camaraderie of two people talking
Listen to customers, association says
February 11, 2009