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Listening Skills Checklist: How to Become a Top 1% Listener

Listening Skills Checklist: How to Become a Top 1% Listener

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
2 min read

The 5 Rules of Becoming a Top 1% Listener

Rule #1: Wait Your Turn

  • Don’t interrupt the talker
  • Avoid turning the conversation back to yourself
  • Don’t change the subject
  • Listen intently without planning the next thing you’re going to say

Rule #2: Show That You’re Listening

  • Maintain eye contact
  • If you’re meeting online, look directly into the camera
  • Nod your head along
  • Use facial expressions to show how you’re feeling
  • Give verbal confirmations (“uh huh,” “yeah,” “okay”)

Rule #3: Ask For More

  • Identify opportunities to uncover more info
  • Ask follow up questions
  • Repeat key phrases with an upward inflection to learn more about them

Rule #4: Get Confirmation

  • Ask for permission to recap your understanding
  • Paraphrase and summarize what the other person has said
  • Ask for their confirmation, and remain silent until they’re finished talking

Rule #5: Reveal Insights

  • Challenge the other person’s assumptions and understandings
  • Ask questions that reveal insights and alternatives they hadn’t considers
  • Respond with relevance

Listening Challenges to Become a Better Listener TODAY

Challenge #1: Repeat and Confirm

Next time you’re in a sales conversation, get confirmation from your prospect following the method outlined in Rule #4 above. Typically the way you’ll do this is by starting with “What I hear you saying is…,” or you can be ultra direct and say: “I’m going to repeat what you said, just to make sure I’m understanding correctly…” You don’t have to repeat what they said verbatim, but you do have to get it right!

Challenge #2: Analyze a Sales Call

Record and play back one of your calls, and look for how much you’re talking versus listening. You can of course use a tool to record and analyze your calls for you, which makes the process a whole lot faster. No matter how you do it, look for opportunities you missed ask follow up questions.

Challenge #3: Talk to a Stranger

Here’s the challenge: it’s not just talk to a stranger, the challenge is to get through the conversation without talking about yourself at all. The only way you’ll do that is by asking great questions based on things you’ve already learned. Try it out the next time you’re waiting in line somewhere, or in a Lyft or Uber.

(BONUS) Challenge #4: Ask an Unplanned Question

Effective selling requires a well thought-out plan as well as spontaneity. Challenge yourself to go off script and ask your prospect a question that could only come from the conversation you’re in with them, and see where it takes you.

(BONUS) Challenge #5: Don’t Listen With a Partner

You’ll need a friend or colleague for this one. One person will talk and the other will do two things: 1) not make eye contact, and 2) respond with zero relevance to the talker. Then you’ll trade notes on how it felt, and switch. This’ll cure you of poor listening skills pretty quickly!

Further Reading