How Much Do You Actually Hear When You Listen?

Let me ask you a question that might make you a tad uncomfortable: if you're really honest, how often do you find your mind wandering during conversations? If you find that more often than not, you're just waiting for your turn to talk instead of actually, really listening, you're definitely not alone ... on average, people spend 60% of conversations talking about themselves!

While this is just rude during personal conversations, it's a killer when it comes to sales conversations, where listening isn't just polite -- it's the foundation of any sale. So if you're thinking right about now that you need to brush up your listening skills, then try using one of my favourite tools, the HLUA method.

What's the HLUA method?

During conversations, we tend to respond reflexively as soon as the other person is finished talking. But if you want to really listen, you need to do four things before you even think about responding.

Hear: Physically take in the sound. This means that you need to stay focused on the person speaking instead of looking at your phone or tuning them out because you think you know what they're going to say. It also means that you need to make sure you're in an environment where you can hear them well -- if you can't physically hear what they're saying very well, it's going to be really hard to actually listen to them.

Listen: This is a step up from hearing; it means that you bring empathy into the picture and really try to listen to what the other person is saying, all the while considering their perspective. Don't forget to pay attention to their body language and tone of voice too: they account for 93% of communication!

Understand: After you've heard someone and listened to them, you need to confirm your understanding of what was said with the other person. Why? Because it's really easy to misinterpret something based on your own assumptions or a mistaken understanding of someone else's map. By confirming what was said with the other person, you not only demonstrate to them that you're listening, which is hugely honouring, it also helps you avoid responding based on a mistaken belief.

Acknowledge: Let the other person know that you're on the same wavelength and that you're paying attention. This can be as simple as nodding or saying "uh huh" or "go on". It's all about showing the other person that you care so you can build rapport and keep the conversation going.

Then and only then should you think about responding. Why? By the time you've gone through this process you'll have made sure that you have a true, clear picture of what the other person is saying, thinking, and feeling, so you'll be able to respond based on solid information rather than your fleeting assumptions and impressions ... not to mention you'll have a much better picture of their map and needs, all of which will make it much, much easier for you to close the sale.

So give it a try during your next sales conversation, and let us know how it goes!

Leigh xx
Leigh Ashton
Leigh Ashton> website | all articles
Hi I'm Leigh Ashton of The Sales Consultancy

Whether you're a small business or a leading brand, an area manager or a Chief Executive, whether you're new to sales or an experienced sales professional. Even if you're not in sales at all but want to understand it, you've come to the right place.

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  • /data/userPictures/7585F804-FD3F-4958-A99A-3BC0F181CE31.jpgBrittany Miles5/2/2016 5:31:51 PM
    Yes, so much of this comes from the concept of active listening! Body language is important. Although you may say that you are engaged, if you appear to be dozing off-the listener will not only think you aren't listening, but will not trust you.

  • /data/userPictures/DAC24BBA-006F-402B-A003-64DB4E41C5AD.jpgClay Daugherty5/24/2016 10:30:45 PM
    The HLUA method is something that will stick with me. Listening and acknowledging with proper body language can really say a lot to your client.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton5/26/2016 4:45:52 AM
    Thanks for the comments guys! Leigh

  • /data/userPictures/841F1C32-F49F-447C-BCFE-054E3791A3D1.jpgPatrice Henderson6/21/2016 8:20:11 PM
    I consider myself to be a good listener except when I'm trying not to forget what I intend to tell them, especially if they've cut me off lol but I think your HLUA method is great to ensure you are a great listener!

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton6/26/2016 5:19:25 AM
    Thanks Patrice! Leigh

  • /data/userPictures/841F1C32-F49F-447C-BCFE-054E3791A3D1.jpgPatrice Henderson6/26/2016 5:44:33 PM
    You're welcome!

  • /data/userPictures/7F2637AE-03FA-45DC-ADC3-97AD874DDDA0.jpgJoe Cunningham7/27/2016 8:36:33 PM
    For those of you that remember the 1971 Miami Dolphins football team, I'm going to remember HULA by adding an S and call it Shula. After the head coach of the team. Expect for me the "S" stands for Shhhhh. I learned a long time ago that when the prospect talks "shhhh" (even if you're mid-sentence.) Let the prospect talk. The more they talk, the more you can HULA. So here's to coach SHULA.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton7/31/2016 7:03:18 AM
    Excellent Joe, love it! Leigh

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureFemale.jpgSally Isok9/19/2016 5:37:21 PM
    There is a stereotype about the sales people: They are aggressive, talk too much, talk too fast, try to control the conversation. I am sure the more we practice listening and hearing on a daily basis through our ordinary life, we will be more effective in communication with our customers. Hearing will make us not to sell, but help them to buy.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton10/3/2016 3:03:46 AM
    Very true Salima :)

  • /data/userPictures/959514EE-95E6-4BAE-BA91-9FBDE2162E53.jpgEdward McAlexander, CPSP11/25/2016 4:20:42 AM
    Great read! Solid comments!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPicture.jpgPhani Madhav Chegu12/20/2016 5:18:16 AM
    An excellent post. A good salesman is first a good listener. It is important to listen attentively to the customer to understand what he wants, and this goes a long way in explaining how your product creates value for him. You can train your sales reps on listening skills very effectively in a classroom setting. Sales coaches can 'simulate' actual selling situations, and these are very useful to train the salesperson to comprehend customer needs and communicate the value proposition effectively.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton12/20/2016 9:27:29 AM
    Thanks Edward & Phani :)

  • /data/userPictures/D253A6ED-D622-46DC-9CB7-F8E73F2E9786.jpgNaxin Zhang1/27/2017 12:14:21 PM
    I think it is very true. And I have to admit, sometimes, when others are talking, I am thinking my own tings. I will try this HLUA method in my daily life. Thank you!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPicture.jpgHeather Simyon1/27/2017 9:27:47 PM
    I have never thought of listening as "bringing empathy into the picture." I love this explanation! I will absolutely be applying this to all conversations.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton1/30/2017 7:08:32 AM
    Glad this article could help you Naxin & Heather - thank you for your comments :)

  • /data/userPictures/2DA3CBAC-7737-45A3-9713-D2756BDDD565.jpgCassandra Light3/1/2017 1:45:34 PM
    I feel I leave a conversation believing I have "a true, clear picture of what the other person is saying, thinking, and feeling..." but as I read through the article it is clear that I have so much work to do. Thank you for posting.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton3/2/2017 9:45:25 AM
    Happy to help Cassandra :)

  • /data/userPictures/B84D4586-BEEE-437C-ADE0-D3FBFEE77161.jpgGeorge Martinez3/15/2017 10:10:58 PM
    You're absolutely right. It's not unusual for me to review my conversations and days events before going to sleep. Sometimes I'm surprised to discover that I've responded incorrectly to a close friend. Fortunately it's never created a problem but it makes me wonder where else I may have misspoken. Your article brought that back to mind so... definitely I will be listening more attentively. Or should I say I'll be listening with the HULA method? Thank you Leigh Ashton.

  • /data/userPictures/8348204F-7330-4A26-8AA5-4657FA77C843.jpgChuck Gennarelli5/2/2017 6:44:09 PM
    Excellent article thank you

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton5/3/2017 2:32:31 AM
    You're welcome Chuck. Leigh :)

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgRameez Saifulla5/17/2017 7:14:22 AM
    I am definitely going to try your method and write you back whether it works for me.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton5/17/2017 7:45:53 AM
    Sounds great Rameez - thank you and good luck. Leigh :)

  • /data/userPictures/414B7551-D218-4F85-88C1-CAA0A06959C6.jpgBlaise Craft5/8/2018 8:20:51 AM
    Great info on the percentage of people that talk about themselves selfishly!

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton5/14/2018 2:04:59 AM
    Indeed Blaise! :)