Tips for Being a Good Listener in a Client Interview

Boy on tin can phone listening to curious good news

“You define yourself by either what your clients want or what you believe they’ll need for the future. So: Define yourself by your client, not your competitor.”

— Ginni Rometty

The success of many of our business activities comes down to how well we listen. And that is especially true for a copywriter conducting an interview with a client and learning about the client’s product or service and the challenges that come with marketing it.

The reality is that most people are not good listeners. The good news is that listening efficiency can be improved by understanding the steps involved in the listening process and by following a few basic guidelines.

There are four basic steps to being a good listener. The first step in the process is to ensure that you heard the speaker correctly. If there is any ambiguity about what you heard, simply ask the speaker to repeat themselves.

The second step is making sure you interpreted the speaker’s words as intended. Failure to interpret the speaker’s words correctly frequently leads to misunderstanding. People sometimes interpret words differently because of varying experience, knowledge, vocabulary, culture, background, and attitudes.

A good speaker will use tone of voice, facial expressions, and mannerisms to help make the message clear to the listener. For instance, if your client speaks loudly, frowns, and puts her hands on her hips, you know she is probably upset and angry.

The third step involves evaluation, where you decide what to do with the information you have received. For example, when listening to a sales pitch, people are presented with two options: either believe or disbelieve the sales arguments. What you decide to do with the information your client is presenting to you could make or break the promotion you’ll be putting together, so if there are any questions in regard to how you’re evaluating the information, that is the time to ask questions.

The final step is to respond to what you have heard. This is a verbal or visual response that lets the speaker know whether you have gotten the message and what your reaction is.

The bottom line is that applying listening skills is not a passive activity. It requires full concentration and active involvement. And it takes hard work to be good at it.

Here are some definitive tips that will help you become a better listener in your next client interview:

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John Torre

I reside in North Brunswick, NJ, with my wife, Lynn, and daughters Kasey, Jaclyn, and Shelly. We also have a 110 pound, lovable Rottie named Leo that keeps us on our toes! When we're not hard at work we enjoy spending weekends at our bungalow down the Jersey shore, or take extended trips to Walt Disney World as members of the Disney Vacation Club. For kicks, I draw on my dominant "right-brain" and play guitar in classic rock and blues bands, act for local plays and independent productions, and enjoy writing creative fiction. I'm a published author in short fiction and stage plays and a graduate of a local community college's Commercial Writer's Certificate Program. After graduating from the program I was selected as an instructor and taught "Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror" writing for 8 years. I enjoy many fine relationships I made with my students to this day.

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