How to Become a Deep Listener and Discover What your Customers are Not Saying

23rd December 2020

‘There’s no shortage of speaker training out there, but the other half of communication is listening’. Author of Deep Listening, Oscar Trimboli, is on a mission to create 100 million deep listeners around the world and he’s sharing some top tips with you!

Over 55% of your day is spent listening, yet only 2% of us have actually been trained on how to listen. According to Oscar Trimboli there are 5 different levels of listening. With his help, we’ve got some practical tips on how to be a deep listener, how not to neglect your existing customers and how to listen to what your customers are not saying.

Why The Magic Phrase Is ‘Tell Me More’ And ‘I’m Curious What Else You’re Thinking About On That Topic.’

On average we can speak at 125 to 150 words per minute. However, we think at a rate of around 400 words per minute. This means that our rate of thinking and comprehension exceeds what we’re actually speaking about. So the chances of somebody talking about what they’re actually thinking about is slim. This is why it’s important to listen to what’s being unsaid.

Oscar has something that he calls ‘the ultimate ninja move of listening’, and it’s a really simple phrase. “Tell me more.” According to Trimboli if you can incorporate these words into the conversation, what you’ll notice is they’ll more often than not say words like, “Well actually…”, “You know what?…”, “You know what’s really important?…”, or “You know what I should have told you that I haven’t told you?…” When people know what they want to say, they use these code words ahead of it – but it’s up to us to spark that conversation.

“Unfortunately for most people, that conversation happens between pressing the lift button when you’re making the move from the meeting to the lift.” Said Trimboli, “It happens at the end of the phone call, it happens at the end of the team meeting, and it’s too late to do anything about it. But if everybody just practised and built a muscle around, “Tell me more” or, “I’m curious what else you’re thinking about on that topic.” It’s such a powerful phrase to unlock, and what it means is they move from a position of feeling like you’re hearing them to deeply listening to them.”

When you create this kind of connection with your customers they often think, because you’ve heard them, that you’ve got the solution. Listening to what’s unsaid is really powerful.

What Are The Five Different Levels Of Listening?

Trimboli is on a quest to help the world understand the five levels of listening and move people from listening in black and white to listening in five-dimensional technicolour. Those five levels of listening are:

  1. Listening to yourself. It’s completely counter-intuitive to all the listening literature, but if you’re not available to actually listen to somebody, listening can’t take place. Most of us turn up to a conversation with the last meeting or conversation in our head, what we’ve got to do this afternoon, kids we’ve got to pick up, etc. You’re distracted while you’re listening. That’s completely okay. But level one listening is listening to yourself. 
  2. Listening to the content. Most listening literature talks about listening to what you say, what you see, and what you sense.
  3. Listening to the context. At level three, we’re listening for patterns. Do people speak consistently in the past or future? Or do they speak consistently in detail or bigger picture? Or perhaps they speak about themselves or their team? If you notice those patterns, you can listen completely differently. 
  4. Listening for what’s unsaid. Remember to ask the magic phrases here – “Tell me more” and “I’m curious what else you’re thinking about on that topic.”
  5. Listening for the meaning. According to Trimboli’s study of 1410 people, 86% of people can’t get out of level one listening because they’re so distracted. They’re distracted by devices, by laptops, by phones, and they’re even distracted by the conversations in their own head. 

Trimboli’s advice is simple – the deeper you breathe, the deeper you listen. 

“Just practising a very simple process, before you get to a conversation, even before you meet the person or get into the team meeting, or visiting with a client or a supplier, my practice is put the phone into flight mode and take three deep breaths.” He said. “In through your nose, and out through your mouth, and you’ll find that that just settles your mind and I ask myself, ‘What’s my intention?’”

Take Notes… (Sort Of)

We’ve all been in a meeting and more often than not by the time the 3 pm brain fog rolls around we’ve forgotten what we learnt earlier that morning. A lot of us will write the words that somebody said, but Trimboli states that you hold memory longer if your notes are graphical. 

If you listen for what they’re meaning and the actions required, you’ll take fewer notes. The interesting thing is while you’re writing verbatim notes, you’re actually saying those words out loud in your head. You’re shutting down the auditory cortex of the brain, which connects the ear to the brain, so it means you can’t actually hear when you’re writing down the verbatim notes.

Remember next time you’re hosting a meeting or engaging with your customers to be truly present and ask the magic phrases to uncover what’s being unsaid. If your customers are being heard they’ll have a genuine connection to you and your brand. And we all know, thanks to episode 14 of Forward Thinking, that customer retention is everything.

We’ve got a whole range of podcasts, creative inspo and how-to guides, including more information on acting on the customer feedback you’ve listened to. To make sure you’ve got a stream of content to keep you inspired. Check them out here.

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