Do you think there is a difference between hearing and listening? There absolutely is. Quite simply, hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Unless you are hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do.
Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning. In other words, hearing is when the sound reaches your ears. Listening is when it reaches your brain. Most people tend to be “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing.”
Listening is the key to selling and is one of the most important aspects in the sales process. By simply asking the right question and then stopping to listen, you will get all the information you need to help solve a problem, address a concern and ultimately giving your client what they are really looking for.
Unfortunately, it is human nature to speak more than we listen, even though we have two ears and one mouth. If you want to be successful, whether in your personal or professional lives, you have to listen first. You will have an opportunity to speak soon enough.
Men and women listen differently
As in almost every aspect of life, men and women also listen differently. So what are the gender roles in effective communication? Men listen to find out what the point is or what the problem is . They are focused on what is the most important part of the conversation and then take this information and solve the problem. The information in the middle is the part that is generally tuned out. Women will want to gather all the information and find out what is needed to give an appropriate solution, but she can’t offer this solution unless there is a beginning, a middle and an end to the story.
Listen and Communicate
Listening is only one piece in understanding what others are trying to convey. Communication is the other half of the process, and if you haven’t guessed it already, men and women communicate differently.
These different communication styles developed long before we started working. As a child, girls are told to be ladylike and use their manners. Boys are encouraged to play rough and loudly. Boys like things and how they work, girls are interested in people and relationships. Girls are allowed to show their feelings if they are hurt and are nurtured, while boys are told to be tough and not to cry. Girls play together and develop relationships while interacting. Boys play team sports and are competitive.
To have effective communication, understanding these differences is critical. Here are some facts regarding the gender roles in effective communication:
- Women want to discuss a problem while men want to solve it.
- Women want to approach a problem by first talking about it. Men tend to want to go directly to the problem solving.
- Women feel more comfortable expressing their feelings than men.
- Women tend to cope by expressing their feelings, while men tend to cope by actually trying to solve the problem.
- Women like to tell and share stories while men cut to the chase.
- Men like to get to the source of the problem, while women like to talk about the issues.
- Women like sharing information to build relationships. Men enjoy giving information as a way to show their expertise.
- Women listen to gain understanding of a speaker’s experience. Men listen to solve problems.
- Women are better at having a dialogue while men are better at monologue.
- Women connect, men compartmentalize.
- Women want relationships and cooperation. Men want power and status.
- Women want to immerse you in their world. Men want to give you just the bullet points.
To put this all together, here are some key points to remember:
- Men and women have different learning styles.
- To a woman, good listening skills include making eye contact and reacting visually to whomever is speaking. To a man, listening can take place with a minimum of eye contact and almost no nonverbal feedback.
- When a man nods, it means he agrees. When a woman nods, it means she is listening.
- A woman listens and takes in the information to build rapport and relationships. A man listens with a more aggressive stance and tends to boast about his accomplishments and strengths when responding.
- Men form relationships by proving how good they are. Women tend not to boast because it may come across as offensive.
Understanding the different roles men and women have in communication and using them as assets rather liabilities will create an environment of cooperation and collaboration and the result is higher productivity. Isn’t that the picture you are looking to have hanging in your office?
About Judy Hoberman
Judy Hoberman’s company, Selling in a Skirt goes beyond a standard training program – it presents a method, a philosophy and a way of life for the next generation of winning sales women. Judy’s objective is to change the culture of sales teams so they are more effective at addressing the differences between men and women – both in the workplace and with each other and in the field with their clients.
Judy is the host of a weekly radio show on Cosmic Broadcasting and is also featured as “The Gender Expert” on Fox News Radio. She is the author of Selling In A Skirt, The Secrets Women Don’t Know They Know About Sales…And What Men Should Know Too. Her new book Famous Isn’t Enough; Earning A Living As An Entrepreneur is due to be released in April 2013.