It’s impossible not to communicate. Whether we speak or remain silent, whether we want to or not, all behavior, conscious or unconscious, voluntary, or involuntary, is a form of communication.
To be a better listener, you need to meet the other person in his/her “world model”. The openness you show and the trust you inspire, are what establishes an initial rapport with your conversational partner. To communicate better with him/her, it’s essential to build on what you’ve heard, what you’ve understood and what you’ve taken from it.
To become an outstanding listener, you’ll need to maintain total concentration and avoid distractions to master the various techniques of active listening.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to three of them: synchronization, calibration, and VAK language.
Three squirrels, wanting to save a group of field mice from certain death as they ran towards a cliff, tried to stop them. The first one threw himself in front of them, ordering them to stop. The authority he tried to display had no effect, and he was trampled to death. The second, perched on a tree, argued with the mice to make them understand the foolishness of their behavior. His efforts to persuade them were in vain. The third, saying nothing, placed himself at the head of the group. He began to run at the same speed and in the same direction as the mice, then, when he felt he was well immersed into the group, he turned and led them away from the cliff.
As seen in this story, you must understand that people will follow you if you’re in tune with them. Pay attention to the rate at which they speak: if they speak very fast, do the same; if they speak slowly, slow down! Numerous studies on the subject have shown that adopting synchronization techniques produces astonishingly positive results. By offering others a reflection of themselves, and even exaggerating it, you’ll get them to change their behavior. In other words, they will spontaneously modify their way of being to re-establish a certain harmony with you, in addition to maintaining an illusion of control.
Pay constant attention to your conversational partner’s attitude: if he/she resists you in any way, the relationship between you has not yet been established. To check how far you’ve got in your role as 3rd squirrel, try pacing and leading: change your posture. If the other one follows you, it’s a done deal!
CALIBRATE OR LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES
In communication, there’s what you say and what you don’t say. Calibration allows you to use visual signs used by your conversational partner on the outside to follow his/her thoughts or state of mind and what’s going on inside (comfort/uncomfort): this is what we call the “pull and question” technique instead of “push and insist”.
It involves constantly observing a person’s physiological and physical reactions (posture, breathing, gestures, tics, etc.) as well as their moods. Any change observed will act as a warning to you.
THE SENSORY REPRESENTATION SYSTEM (THE VAK LANGUAGE)
We communicate with the outside world via our five senses, and the information they provide is encoded in the form of internal representations, such as images, sounds, words, sensations, smells and tastes.
Entering someone’s model of the world means seeking to understand their internal processes with the aim of adapting to them.
There are five categories of sensory representations: visual (V), auditory (A), kinaesthetic (K), olfactory (O) and gustatory (G), but there is generally one that dominates our representation of reality. So, everyone thinks, speaks, and processes information according to their own dominant system: V, A, K or, more rarely, O and G. This dominant system is invaluable, as it provides clues about our thought processes and the way we apprehend the world and access information. These are invaluable clues for the communicator who wants to understand and be understood.
Here’s a story to illustrate what we want to explain:
In a couple, one says to the other, “You don’t love me anymore.” The other replies, “What do you mean, you don’t see how much I do for you?”
In this case, one of the protagonists needs to hear the words, while the other expresses his feelings through actions.
Remember that, as soon as you establish a relationship with someone, you’re exerting a certain influence on them, whether you want it or not. This influence can either go in the direction you want or not. Whatever the case, the influence you have on someone else, be it very small or very large, is very real.
Make sure you establish an equal relationship with your conversational partner, keep an eye out for their behavior and ask the right questions to determine who you’re dealing with.
Book (in French only): Au-delà de la vente
Training: Listen Beyond Words