Being a good listener is essential for anyone that interacts with customers – no matter if you’re with a corporate giant, a solopreneur, or anyone in between. You cannot allow your mind to wander; you have to remain engaged. Yes, your expertise is critical, but you won’t know how to apply it if you don’t listen to them as they tell you what they need.

As you know, distractions are literally everywhere today. Distractions work directly against you in your efforts to build thriving business partnerships. A distracted business partner doesn’t fully care about clients and is only in this business to make money or to make a name for themselves.

Stop and assess your listening skills. Are you truly listen to the client? Are you clear on what the client needs? Are you tempted to look at your phone? It’s important to be truly and brutally honest. 

If you feel you need to improve your listening skills, there are some simple steps you can take:

  1. Keep eye contact. Meet in a webinar conference room or in a real physical location and focus on the person’s face because looking around aimlessly gives the impression that you’re not listening. If you’re taking notes while on a video call, tell them that so they don’t think you’re on your phone or dozing off when you look down.
  1. Pretend that you’re going to repeat this conversation. This is a mental exercise because, obviously, your clients want their sessions kept confidential. However, thinking that you need to remember the most important parts of the conversation will help you stay focused. Use this as an aid for taking notes, too.
  1. Turn off your phone. Or put it on silent mode and keep it in your purse or in a drawer away from your desk. The only time it should come out during a session is when you’re scheduling a follow-up session and you check your calendar.
  1. Ask open-ended questions. Coaching sessions are meant to be two-way conversations so instead of focusing on taking notes, pay attention to details and ask related questions. Don’t try to be a mind reader and don’t make assumptions. Simply ask questions and allow your client to elaborate.
  1. Summarize the session. At the end of the session offer a summary, either verbally or via email. Also include the next steps your client should take before your next session. If they say anything during the session that is unclear or confusing, offer a summary immediately by saying, “I hear you saying…” and add in your version of what they said. They can correct any misunderstanding right away while you show them that you’re paying attention to the little details.

If these things are already part of your makeup, you’re in good shape. You are listening and your clients should feel good that you are hearing them. If you need improvement, you can work on these simple steps and become the listener that will make all your clients feel great about partnering with you.