You may not believe this, but listening is a skill. Some people do it really well, while others, not so much. It is important to develop strong listening skills because you may pick up on things that others don't. When talking with prospective clients, you may hear things that others don't, thus creating an advantage for yourself. Most people are so busy worrying about what they are going to say next, that they lose a lot of what is being said to them.
On Friday, a prospective client told me that I had really captured what they they wanted to accomplish in the proposal I had sent them. I took this as a compliment because they were saying that I heard their concerns, I listened to their priorities and I captured them well in my document. Now all that is left is for them to agree to the proposal. We all want to be heard so it is nice to know when someone actually listens.
A simple, but not often effectively executed aspect of listening, is following through. I believe that we should only need to ask someone once for a request–removal from a distribution list, sending a prospectus, calling back at a better time, sending an invoice–these are all things that happen daily. It is very frustrating when you need to remind someone multiple times to do one of these activities. It takes energy away from you in doing other, potentially more valuable, things.
The art if listening is about giving others the opportunity to talk and be heard. The more they talk, the more you will learn. The more you learn, the more advantageous the situation becomes for you. Do you hear me?