Listening as a Tool for Improving Business Relationships

Listening as a Tool for Improving Business Relationships

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Dr. Corrinne Graham

Dr. Corrinne Graham Guest Commentator

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.” — President Calvin Coolidge

I’ll go a bit further to say “Nor does one listen oneself out of a client.” Or do we?

Listening is a challenge for all of us at times. Although we don’t intend to ignore people, not listening can have serious financial implications as well as other undesirable side effects such as: Loss of a job, Loss of a client, Liability, and Estranged relationships.

We all listen differently depending on the environment, the situation and our own comfort level and confidence. In a world of information overload, how do we hone and tune our listening skills to sharpen our focus on our customers, families, friends, colleagues, employees and employers?

I believe we each have unique listening abilities. To be a good listener, however, it is important to step outside of your comfort zone and learn to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is trying to deliver the message. After all, can you remedy problems or provide possible solutions if you miss the message?

To be a good listener it is important to step outside of your comfort zone and learn to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is trying to deliver the message.

Corrinne Graham: How do you get the person you’re talking with to fully engage and tune in to your suggestions? Listening is Key! Don’t jump to conclusions; pay attention and get the facts. Just because you’ve seen similar situations a hundred times don’t means there’s a one-size-fits-all answer.

If you remain neutral, balanced and present in the moment with your clients, you will hear their concerns and your intuitive and creative side will start to provide possible solutions and ideas about how to approach an initiative or challenge.

I want to share two stories that illustrate the role of listening in relationships. When a colleague of mine decided to start his own business, he met with a potential client. He pitched the company’s insurance and financial services manager and observed the potential client’s non-verbal communication cues. The client’s eyes showed no interest.

However, once my colleague shared the other aspect of his business idea, fractional HR services, he had the potential client’s full attention and was able to retain the company as a client. His business has grown by leaps and bounds because he listened carefully.

The other story is a more personal one. One evening when my nephew and niece were visiting, I was having a conversation in my mind as I often do with those three great companions we all know — me, myself and I — trying to resolve a trying work situation. I was rather frustrated by a business partner’s unprofessionalism, which I suspected and anticipated but was not prepared to resolve with a quick solution. My nephew quickly realized my frustration.

“Aunty Corrinne,” he asked, “Who are you mad at?”

I replied, “Myself.” He responded, “Seriously, Aunty Corrinne!” He was being sarcastic and surprised as only a five-year-old could be. He saw behind my short response and wanted to know more. Was I really mad at myself or was something else going on? I explained more and he understood as only a five-year-old would. I responded patiently, knowing that my words and tone could have an impact on him far beyond what I said in the moment.

Remember that the way you listen will affect your response and how it is received, which can have a negative impact on the interaction.

We listen for different reasons. Some people listen for a moment and then jump into an action they had planned all along. They quickly learn that they didn’t quite get the message. If this is your standard way of listening, you could compromise your relationships and even your job.

Before the dialogue begins, commit to listening with an intention to learn or to enlighten. In the past, when I interviewed for corporate opportunities, aside from the standard preparations, I made a point to listen to what the interviewers had to share and relate my responses to those key areas. I never asked generic questions but came up with inquiries unique to each individual and company based on what I had heard. The same applies for your clients, families and friends. All you need you to know is contained within the interaction. Pay attention

This article first appeared: we.nyc

ABOUT Dr. Corrinne Graham

Dr. Graham is a highly accomplished speaker, trainer and management consultant to small and start-up businesses. Dr. Graham of GRAHAM International Consulting and Research (GICaR), is a small business specialist with nearly two decades of experience across a diverse spectrum of businesses, with revenues ranging from under $1m and upwards $20m to $500m. Dr. Graham appearances and articles include, Huffington Post, WLIW 21, Newsday, LIBN, CBS 1010 Win, Fios1-Money, Main Street, and several other noteworthy news and media channels.

Highlights: WE NYC Mentor (NYC, WE NYC was ranked for second year in a row as “Best City for Women Entrepreneurs ,” by Dell’s Cities Index 2017),Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business Class of 2017 Long Island Business News, LIBN Diversity in Business Awards, MWBE, Look Out for Upcoming eBook: KEOS Series Roadmap: The Journey’s Guide to Entrepreneurship

Dr. Graham has developed: The CDP Model from her published research of ‘Profitability and Cultural Diversity, 2012, Dr. Graham’s portfolio includes over 15 Research, Development and Commercialization Projects including: Three (3) Workforce Development and Educational Programs, Dr. Graham has worked with and trained thousands of individuals ranging in ages 14-74; (Gamers, Millennials, XYers, Boomers).

Dr. Corrinne Graham is a member of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (New York State’s largest African American Chamber of Commerce) and has appeared on Money & Main$treet FiOS1.

Please send inquiries and keynote requests to: info@grahamconsultingandresearch.com or visit/book: www.grahamconsultingandresearch.com

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Phil Andrews is the current President of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (LIAACC) and President-Emeritus of Black Public Relations Society-New York. He is also the Past President of the 100 Black Men of Long Island having served two terms as President. The 100 Black Men of LI was Founded in 1974 and is the second oldest chapter of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. “The 100” serves as an international coalition focused on creating educational opportunities, promoting economic empowerment, addressing health disparities and creating positive mentoring relationships. As founder of of P.A. Public Relations Company, Phil has been afforded the privilege to serve as Public Relations Director for a myriad of companies, community initiatives and professional organizations. Andrews’ business acumen is often sought after by organizations that host major events, benefits and fundraisers. Mr. Andrews’s current leadership at the Long Island African American Chamber is spearheading LIAACC to become the largest African American Chamber of Commerce in New York State. The chamber currently serves the four counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Kings.

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