Listening Your Way to Success

By Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling (McGraw-Hill, 2010)

Malcolm Forbes wrote, “The art of conversation lies in listening.” Are you a good conversationalist? Are you a good listener?

In a recent article in the Journal of Personality Research, the authors described a study in which participants were asked to rate peers on their level of influence. The best listeners, not the best talkers, were rated as the most influential.

Listening is more than hearing—the awareness of sounds. Effective listening requires patience, which is difficult to do when you think that what you have to say is more important than what the other person has to say. Patient listening invites customers to explore and elaborate on their needs. Patient listening is necessary if your intent is to understand fully another person. Patient listening is shining the spotlight on the other person and letting that person have center stage.

Patient listening begins with your attitude. You must believe that what the other person is saying is important because it is to that person. Patient listening resists the impulse to finish sentences for the other person; one-up the other person’s comments; or shape their comments to suit your purposes. Patient listening is moving at a pace that is comfortable for the other person.

Our world is ill-suited for patience these days. We witness global events in real time. Our news comes in bits and bytes. We even consume fast food. Some may argue that our world is ill-suited for listening. A new generation would rather text than talk. Voice mail is a firewall that blocks the sender from the receiver of a message. People opt for the convenience of email in lieu of face-to-face meetings. Patient listening—is there any other kind?

Public Seminar Schedule at Tom Reilly’s training center:

For all of your customer contact people (direct and indirect) December 10, 2013: Sales and Service 101 presented by Paul Reilly

For your outside salespeople, marketing staff, and product managers, December 17-18, 2013: Value-Added Selling presented by Tom Reilly  

Links for both programs are on our home page at