Teressa D. Brown, Raffa Technology
You have the right to remain silent!
Your technology team is called into an impromptu client meeting. An agenda was not provided, the meeting attendees are unknown and context for the meeting is unclear. You simply don’t know what you’re walking into or how to prepare. So how should you prepare? What should you bring with you to the meeting? Well, for starters, you may have everything you need for this situation…your ears. Actively listening to what your client has to say may help you walk away with valuable information to assist your team in producing results which will keep your client happy. A happy client typically leads to a satisfied client.
Has anyone ever said to you, “Are you listening to me?” Typically, by the time you hear that statement, you may have already missed the gist of the conversation. Stephen R. Covey once said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Your client usually shares information with you that is vital to the success of the project. But if you are quick to make comments, ask questions or even provide solutions without first actively listening to what your client is saying, you will miss out on some key messaging. Active listening involves being truly engaged in a client’s message and listening more than talking. Key decisions are made and changed in most meetings so listening is key. Clients have the expectation that what they say will be understood. Actively listening can assist in meeting such expectations through the use of three simple listening techniques: Repeat, Rephrase and Recap.
- Repeat what you hear to ensure that you captured what was communicated. Being attentive and repeating exactly what you heard will show your client that you are not only interested in what they have to say, but that you want to take extra steps to make sure you heard their message correctly and as delivered.
- Rephrase what you hear involves rewording what you heard to capture the essence of the message. Sometimes rephrasing may simplify the message delivered in a more concise manner. Your client may appreciate this technique as it requires not only listening to what was said but digesting the information and repeating it in a way that may sound clearer and more succinct.
- Recap the message you heard by using key words and phrases which depict the overall communication. This may be advantageous if you want your client to walk away from the meeting or conversation knowing that you understood what was said without regurgitating the entire message. Remember, your client’s time is valuable and often times very limited so you want to make wise use of the time you are afforded.
Whether you have a preference of one listening technique over the other, or choose to use a combination, it’s best to also have some means to capture what you’ve heard. Current technology has created many tools which can be used such as specialized tablets, specific note taking software or even software already available on your PC. And, of course, you can always simply just use a pen and paper.
So, the next time you find yourself in front of your client for a meeting, presentation or some other dialogue exchange, remember it’s perfectly fine to remain silent. Effective listening cannot be achieved if you’re talking at the same time!
Please contact Teressa Brown if you have any questions.