Whether you work in sales, human resources, marketing or another department, you’ll always benefit from strong listening skills. People want to be heard, and when you show that you are listening, you can bolster workplace relationships and build meaningful connections with potential buyers.

Improving your listening skills can help you in all kinds of ways, whether you’re conversing with clients, attending a job interview or communicating with colleagues. Brian Ahearn, a speaker, coach and consultant, says that there are five components to becoming a better listener: Stop, Tone, Ask, Restate and Scribble. We highlight his STARS tips in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Stop. To be a better listener, first stop doing anything else so you can focus fully on the other person. Put away your phone and stop multitasking. Give the other person your full attention so they know you are actively listening.

Tone. A person’s tone of voice is important for several reasons, Ahearn says. First, it indicates mood. You can usually tell by the other person’s tone of voice whether they are enthused, bored, tired or stressed. The other reason tone is important is because it gives more meaning to the communication. For example, the sentence “I can’t believe you did that” can mean many different things depending on the word or words the speaker emphasizes, Ahearn says.

Ask. It’s always important to ask the right questions. When you work in sales, asking questions can help you understand the prospect’s needs and uncover any objections. Questions also help you qualify the sale. Make sure you ask good questions, Ahearn says, so that you can be sure you understand what the other person is saying.

Restate. It’s not enough to think you know or think you understand what the other person said, Ahearn says. You need to verify that you’re on the same page. By simply reiterating what you think you heard and reframing it with your own language, you can ensure you understand the message the other person wanted to convey.

Scribble. The final step to turning average listeners into STARS is to remember to take notes. The idea isn’t to jot down every single point, but to capture the gist when you later recall the conversation. Ahearn says that he often sees people take the focus off of the speaker because they get so intent on writing as much as they can.

Listening is one of the best ways you can make connections with other people. If you want to improve your team’s listening skills, remember the STARS approach and apply the tips often.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Brian Ahearn is an international speaker, coach and consultant who specializes in applying the science of influence and persuasion in everyday situations.