Most of us know the basics of active listening, which involve staying in the moment and paying close attention to not only what’s being said, but what isn’t being said.

A third ingredient is repeating back to the speaker what you’ve heard. Repeating the most important words back shows not only that you’ve listened, but that the other person has been heard. That’s an important distinction.

Being heard is more important than simply being listened to. Understanding and implementing that distinction can really increase the level of trust you have with prospects and customers.

One approach is to incorporate some of their words into a question. The dialog might look like this:

Prospect: “I’m interested in the new model because it will put me ahead of my competitors.”

You: “If you had the new model and were ahead of your competitors, what would that mean for your business?”

Prospect: “Well, it would help bring in more customers…”

Try this the next time you’re with a prospect. Pay attention to what they’re saying. Listen carefully for the words they put the most emphasis or emotion into. Repeat some of what you’ve heard back to them. And then ask a question about what you’ve heard.

Source: Based on a posting by The Brooks Group, at

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