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Trust me, I’m listening: how to listen well for more meaningful conversations

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In our second of three blogs based on hostage negotiator Richard Mullender’s expert insights on listening, we look at how genuinely listening builds trust and creates the meaningful conversations that are at the heart of Appco’s Human CommercialTM approach to face-to-face marketing.

In the first blog, we covered the different ways that people listen. This second one looks at what we can do with the information we get from listening.

Listening to someone means you can connect better and build trust.

Build trust, not rapport

Richard explained that there is a difference between really listening to someone, and simply having a conversation in which you build a rapport.

Listening to someone and gathering knowledge about that person, means you can connect better and build trust. So what does trust mean for an organisation and its reputation?

Appco has built a good reputation because of the care it has taken in contracting independent marketing companies of the highest calibre. In doing so, Appco has created a reliable business model that its clients know they can trust. The more trust you build with people, the more they will show you.

From a business perspective, Richard suggested thinking of trust as a two-storey house. When a stranger comes to your house – a plumber for example – how much of your house would you show them? They probably wont get further than the problem area they are there to fix.

A friend who comes over is going to have a lot more access – say, the whole first floor, because you trust them.

Then a family member who you trust them completely is likely to have the run of the entire house and full access to the contents of the refrigerator.

Back to the business: decide how much trust you want to foster and, therefore, how much access you want people to have, and listen to your audiences accordingly.

 

Change the focus to change the conversation

Richard’s thoughts on meaningful conversations echo Appco’s: they key is to relate to the person you are speaking to.

When it comes to having a good conversation, Richard was of the exact same opinion as everyone else within the Appco network: they work best when you relate them directly to the person you are speaking to.

For example, when talking to children about getting good results in school, most people will relate it to them getting a good job one day. But this is not what 15 or 16-year-olds are thinking about.

You need to change the focus of the conversation to what they will get out of it more immediately – student life is basically about having a good time for three years, while slotting in a bit of learning. The catch is that you need good marks in high school to get into university. Changing the focus of the conversation to this has made it more relevant to the audience, and much more enticing.

Another example Richard gave was for people fundraising for a charity. What you need to do, he suggested, is show potential donors what they will get out of supporting the charity. If you can demonstrate why giving to a worthy cause will make the donor feel good, then the likelihood of them contributing will be higher.

 

Richard’s top listening tip

Richard’s final tip was to discuss what you’ve been told. This is a key tool hostage negotiators use and involves “stating your impression”.

When someone is telling you something, take it in, listen, and then give your impression of what they have said.

What you will find here is one of two things, said Richard: if your impression is correct, they will agree with you, and give you more information. If your impression is wrong, they will correct you, then expand on what they mean to clarify their perspective.

Either way, you will find out extra information that could be valuable in terms of making your interaction with this person more meaningful to both of you.

 

Richard Mullender spoke at a skills-sharing event for entrepreneurs, hosted by Appco UK, about the power of listening and the importance of clear communication. His session was so good, we decided to dedicate a series of three blogs to see what we can learn from this communication expert. Stay tuned for blog #3 coming soon!