Listening with Intention

Published: 28th March 2008
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"It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Persuading powerfully has many ingredients -- being flexible, really understanding criteria and core values, and one of the most important persuasion activities is being a good listener. Some people are naturals at this, others need practice, and plenty of it. If your goal is to become the best persuader you can be, sharpening your listening skills is mandatory.

When you listen actively, you are not formulating your arguments or answers in your head as they are talking. You're actually listening while they are talking. When they are done talking, that is the time to formulate your response. There are both verbal and non-verbal indications that you are listening -- for example, eye contact is a big one (if you're in person), same with nodding or smiling or other facial or physical agreements. If you're on the phone, you'll give verbal prodding, like an occasional 'um hum'. Listening requires also that you ask pertinent follow up questions.

The power of listening is most apparent in persuasion when we elicit our prospect's criteria and core values. We ask the question, "What will having X do for you?" When we ask this, we prepare ourselves to listen. We unlock the core values and criteria of our prospects and clients and in order to gain full advantage, we have to hear what they're saying and not be off in our minds thinking of what we're going to say next.

After we get the the first part of their criteria and dig even deeper to get the ultimate criteria, we are also paraphrasing back to them, exactly what we heard them say. "So, what you're telling me is, having X will do this for you" or "As I understand it, what you are looking to do is have more Y in your life". . . These follow ups show our prospects and clients that we understand what they are looking for therefore building more trust and getting them to reveal even more of what makes them tick.

The next level could be that you really key into the representational system that your prospect is operating within. Using auditory, kinesthetic or visual language will further deepen the trust and comfort you are establishing. "I'm seeing that a new financial advisor will really lighten up your load and you will have a greater vision for the future that you have always seen for yourself."

One of my favorite tools to use along these same lines, is silence. Wow. Talk about powerful. Many people are highly uncomfortable with silence and will do their darnedest to fill it up. As persuaders, we can use this to our advantage. The more information we have about our prospect's wants and needs, the more we can combine these wants and needs with our products and services.

Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to sell to affluent clients using persuasion strategies. He runs unique public and private seminars and offers home study courses, audio/visual learning tools, and coaching programs in persuasion techniques. Find more free articles at Be sure to sign up for his free report entitled "Yes! Persuasion."

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