Listening is one of the most important skills a sales manager can possess. According to our research, just the simple act of listening to one's team member can make a manager more effective in the eyes of his or her team. Yet, we are constantly undermining our ability to become a better listener by the thoughts going on in our mind.
At our EcSell Institute sales coaching summit, Scott Hunter introduced our audience of sales leaders to the concept of the “the conversation” – the internal dialogue we are always having with ourselves. According to Scott, we are constantly using our past experiences and beliefs to judge and assess our current experiences; therefore, “the conversation” is hard-wired into us at an early age and will constantly impact how we view our world and interact with others.
Scott also informed us that our internal dialogue is mostly concerned with one thing – our survival. The conversation that we have with ourselves occurs in our brains at the ego level. The ego is driven by our beliefs about ourselves and the environment around us. Many of these beliefs may not be true and the ego tends to view the world as a series of threats. So as we encounter the world around us and the people within it, we are focused on ourselves and, more specifically, protecting ourselves from what could go wrong. We are concerned with our potential failure, rather than everyone’s potential success (tweet this).
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Our survival mindset is seen most often in how we interact with and listen to those around us. When we are supposed to be listening to someone else, we are usually focused on ourselves instead. We are not truly present in the moment with others, but rather we are thinking of what we are going to say next, why we agree or disagree with what they’re saying, or impatiently waiting for them to just finish talking.
When we are thinking about ourselves rather than the other person, we lose the opportunity to understand them, empathize with them or to find out what is so great about them. Ultimately, this hurts our ability to build genuine relationships.
To overcome this challenge, Scott encouraged us to become mindful of our particular listening issues. That is, what internal dialogue are we having with ourselves rather than focusing on the other person? Do we focus on what we want to say? Do we try to find the flaws in the other person’s point of view? Do we try to guess what they’re going to say next?