When I was a kid, my parents worked hard so a wonderful lady took care of me. I love her with all my heart and at 87, after three surgeries in two months; she can still talk for an hour straight! I listen intently because of how much I care about her.
Your friends love you. You can talk their ears off about a relationship, family issue or your political view and they'll listen.
Your family loves you. Even if you don't stop talking.
You are employed by your clients. It doesn't matter how much of an army you've been able to build or how strong of a relationship you've developed. Fact is, they're the boss and don't want to consistently hear about your ex-girlfriend, brothers engagement, or socialist agenda. Speaking too much can be a disastrous habit.
Don't believe me? How did YOU feel the last time you had a professional interaction with another human being that just seemed to talk NON-STOP? Last week I went to my local coffee shop and the barista (who I always chat with) started droning on. It was something about her boyfriend. I don't quite remember as I tuned her out.
She just kept talking.
The #1 worst habit that you must avoid
When a client starts speaking about their family and you immediately respond with "oh that's like when my brother..."
When a client starts speaking about their weekend and you immediately respond with "Sounds like fun. I went to the movies this weekend and saw..."
When a client starts speaking about a breakdown in their diet and you immediately respond with "I went out for ... last night. At 'X' restaurant, with 'X' person, and ate 'X' meal..."
If you ever say or feel you have to say "let me know if I am talking too much."
It's not about you
I don't know about you, but I spot these people within a minute or two of conversation. I zone out, stop listening and I never want to deal with them anymore.
In the essential course "Selling You", Napoleon Hill, states that top sales people have the rule that you should "speak 20% of the time and listen 80% of the time and the 20% speaking should be asking the client questions to make them speak more about themselves."
(Yes, if you are a personal trainer, you must CONSTANTLY sell the client on working with you, even though the formal sale may have been completed by a consultant)
You have two ears and one mouth
Listen twice as much as you speak
Here's a condensed list of benefits for adopting this crucial skill:
- People love it when others take an interest in them. When you're asking questions and genuinely listening your client will like you more: "He is such a nice person. He seemed so interested in me." The saying that "long after the client has forgotten what you said, they still remember how you made them feel," is VERY true. Making an emotional connection is what gets people coming back.
- By asking questions and listening you will get more information about your client's thoughts and habits. In turn you'll be able to create better programs and understand their emotional motivators them.
Here is a short list of important questions to ask:
- How did you find me?
- What made you contact me?
- Tell me about a typical day in your life
- What can make you miss a workout?
- What are your goals for working with me?
- Why do you want to accomplish these goals
- What could prevent you from accomplishing these goals?
By listening more you increase the amount of time to prepare your next response. This puts you in a situation to coach your client towards a goal.
When a client asks you a question
Even when I understand the client's question perfectly, I will often say, "Could you say that one more time?" or "Do you mean that..." or "If I understand you correctly, then......." The simple purpose for this stalling tactic is to buy myself more time to prepare my reply.
When you listen more and talk less and thus have time to prepare your statements, it is very likely that they will be perceived more powerfully than if you are talking faster than you are thinking.
I speak slowly both in Danish and English. When I came to Canada in 2007 and started teaching courses, a few times I received the feedback that I was speaking TOO slowly. Now, four years later I receive the feedback that I speak CLEARLY (probably, because the students experience me as a contrast to all the other speed talkers out there).
I don't speak slowly on purpose. I speak the way I speak because I think before I speak and I prefer that to speaking before I think!