From the 'Drop the Monkey Business' column in The Galway Advertiser 7/3/2013 P.101
How does one listen to their business? The key to your business is your customers, therefore that’s a great place to begin. You only need to stop talking. It’s that simple. When you stop listening to yourself and your own internal voice and all external noise and waffle, you can pay attention to your customers. There's a big distinction between showing interest in your customers and really taking interest in your customers. Listening is a tool that can make that difference. One of my favourite books of all time is Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. Stephen hits the nail on the head when he says ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ That’s the essences of listening and the secret of success when applied to business.
I don't recall where I first heard the words "you have two ears and one mouth, and you should use them in that ratio" nevertheless; it must be the best piece of wisdom one can apply in business. Give your business the love it needs by listening a little more and talking a little less. Switch off the chatter and listen. You maybe surprised at what you hear. Great business people know how to listen to their customers. You have to listen to your customers and allow them to shape the success of your business. Too often, we start marketing campaigns or launch new products without including the customer in the planning process. They will tell you what they want and how you can help them. They will tell you if your service is great or poor. They will tell you if they’ll come back and do business with you again.
Listening allows you to get feedback and facts, so that you can make better choices that help your business grow in the right direction. To be always listening attentively is crucial to building rapport and trust with your customers. Listening is a real way to build a solid reputation for your brand. The good name of your business can depend upon your ability to listen. If you stop listening to customers, they might not receive the service they should receive. When this happens regularly, it can taint the reputation of a business.
When you are actively listening it can be more engaging for the person speaking and you will understand the real message with in what they are saying. You are more focused on the topic and carry more intention to accept their perception of situations and help them where needed. When you are truly listening, your body language, eye contact, and overall focus will let the person speaking know that you are engaged and attentive. The lesson is crystal clear: you need to listen to and act on the needs and perspectives of your customers. Even if you don't like what they are saying, value what they have to share. Listen effectively, and actively absorb the information given. Show that you are listening and interested by providing feedback so the person with whom you are interacting knows the message was received. A great listener is able to show the person speaking that they have been heard and understood. If you are talking, you are not listening and may lose a golden opportunity to get feedback from a customer or to be given an interesting idea for your business from a colleague. As the old proverb says, "If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”