Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Five steps to Socratic Listening

I've been reading Socratic Listening, a free whitepaper put out by the folks at Communispond, and it had some wise words to say about the process of listening ... really listening.

Here's my cut-down, reworded summary:

  1. provocative question. Not provocative as in "why are you so freakin' ugly?" ... but as in "what prompted your interest in..." - something that elicits a story. Stories are powerful.
  2. listen. Really really really listen.
  3. playback in order to get clarification. Not just parroting back their words, but clarifying the ideas they're expressing, using logic to tie together different things they've said, getting a full understanding.
  4. demonstrate knowledge by asking knowledgeable questions. Don't demonstrate knowledge by saying stuff you know. It only makes you feel good, but can be really distracting.
  5. don't miss the question behind the question. People may not want the answer, they want to learn something else. "why do you ask?"

For example, the author of the e-book once had someone ask if Communispond provided executive training. He launched into a big sales pitch about how many senior execs they'd trained, and at such a high level. Turns out the client actually was sick of companies only focusing on the top, and instead wanted someone who focused on middle managers. The question wasn't what it seemed to be.

Well worth a proper read, if you've enjoyed my little summary.

Next on my reading list, TomPeters!' 111 thoughts about selling.

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