I first came across the concept of Active Listening back in the mid-90s. A sales manager led training session raised the question of its definition. I stepped up to successfully provide one.
To me, it was always about gently summarising what you’d just heard when the person has finished, with a comforting paraphrasing clarification question if necessary, or a delving directional small prompt. It seemed a way of getting the other party to genuinely feel that you were interested, really trying to get a handle on what they were saying.
It’s long been part of my selling fabric and was reminded of it via an email from my alumni network. It featured a short review of a talk given by a chap evidently making a living on presentation skills. He clearly understands a key solution selling skill too. Apparently,
[He] stressed the need to develop listening skills, emphasising that there is a good reason why the letters in the word listen are the same as in the word silent. He said:
“The opposite of talking is not listening, it’s waiting”
and argued that it is essential to be interested when listening to someone.
Seems like another gripping advert for active listening, with a couple of lovely soundbites to help those discovering anew to truly understand its power.
postscript: here’s wikipedia’s juicy pic:
For solution selling, I’d recommend an evolution though, and as a starter here’s the next three phases that get you towards a ‘close’,
Clarifying -> Interpreting -> Agreeing