My husband and I went to a wedding this past weekend. A good time was had by all! We traveled over two hours to a little town in rural Missouri where we both used to live. At the wedding and then at the reception afterwards, we visited with some people we haven't seen in a long time. There were a lot of polite "cocktail party" conversations going on with the usual questions -- "Where do you live now?" and "What do you do now?"
I'm always prepared for those situations and have standard answers. We live near Jefferson City. I work for The Missouri Bar and refer people to attorneys. Short, sweet, and to the point.
Well, I'm not totally stupid. I know some folks really don't care one way or the other where we live, where I work, or what I do. I sometimes feel the same way about those who ask. I think that's pretty typical of the banter that goes back and forth between people who really aren't connected but are together at these kinds of events.
Frankly, when I find myself in situations where there are those light, conversational exchanges -- I know that 99% of the time -- the person who asks the questions probably won't remember what I told them ten minutes later. Why is that? I think some folks just don't listen.
When someone walks into your law office, or calls you about a problem they're having, do you listen to what they have to tell you? It may not be particularly important to you -- but it should be -- this is your customer or your client to lose. Listening is a real skill.
Here's a very short test -- and a tip at the end!
So, if your client is telling you something -- are you two steps ahead of them and already thinking about how you're going to respond while that person is talking?
If your customer is in your office, do you tend to look out the window when they're speaking to you?
When your client calls, are you still focused on what it was you were doing before you were interrupted?
Okay. Your responses to those questions should all be, "Absolutely not!"
If your client is telling you something -- you'll do a better job if you listen to what they're saying and wait until they're finished.
If your customer is in your office, you should be making eye contact with that customer, not looking out the window.
When the phone rings, and you answer it, you should be concentrating on what the client is saying to you -- not dealing with the stuff you were working on before that person called. You should have a notepad and a pen handy to take notes.
The Big Tip: Think about the one person in your family that you most admire and respect. Can you visualize that person in your mind? Good!
When you're dealing with your clients or your customers -- try to visualize your family member in that role the client or customer is in. I bet your listening skills will improve.