It must have been painful for her. I could tell by her body language that she was having trouble waiting.

In fact, I thought she might burst across the table from me. Veins were popping on her forehead, she was fidgeting uncontrollably and kept opening and closing her mouth as if about to say something.

She obviously felt it cruel what I was doing.

What was my crime you ask?


She had asked me a question and I was trying to answer it, but no sooner had she asked, then she wanted to answer her own question. Not taking the bait, or desiring to prolong her agony, I continued with my answer until I was satisfied.

And then she burst forth with all the reasons why I was wrong, her product was right, I needed what they offered, etc. Needless to say, I won’t be buying anything from her company. She is probably even reading this and doesn’t realize who I’m talking about.

I used to be like that. I knew everything and couldn’t wait for the person I was speaking to, to shut up, so I continue to delight them with my wisdom.

Flash forward a “few” years. Now, if anything, I’m guilty of listening too much, speaking too little, and asking many questions.

I think it was in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that I first read about types of listening. 

If you’re in business and/or sales, and not aware of the types of listening, and where you fall, it might be why your performance is lagging. 

Listen to Respond

You probably know a few people like this. Seriously, this is where most people fall. They nod their head while you’re speaking, but don’t hear much. They’re too busy organizing their “brilliant” response to really “get” what you’re saying, let along understand.

It’s an annoying habit and one that shuts me down pretty quickly. If you want to do all the talking, I’ll let you and move on.

If you’re in sales or a relationship, and you find yourself ‘needing’ to respond, you may want to take a hard look. Chances are your ‘sales’ are suffering.

Listen to Discredit

If you have a passionate, stubborn friend or family member who is into politics or topic with a STRONG opinion, you’re familiar with this one.

They listen, very similar to the “Listen to Respond” person, but with added intensity.

And when they speak, regardless if they have ANY knowledge on the subject, they list all the reasons why you’re wrong (or he’s wrong, or Orange Man Bad).

When a salesman does this – perhaps trying to discredit a competitor – I immediately lose interest and move on.

Besides, who likes to be told they’re wrong? Not an effective strategy.

Listen to Understand 

You know this type. They listen, acknowledge and look at you while you’re speaking.

You can see their interest and curiosity while you’re speaking. It’s like they could listen for hours.

And when they respond, you feel heard. No judgment, no opinion, they just respond in a way that says “I get you. I understand where you’re coming from.” 

The cool thing is they might completely disagree with you, but they can handle that because they’re listening to YOU.

When you apply this to business, it’s about listening to the customer, what they want, what they like, dislike and ultimately making them feel heard.

Listening is crucial in the sales process, and how you respond ultimately decides your next steps.

It’s one of the things I work with sales teams to improve sales. To learn more about growing your small business, register for the next “Path to $10 Million – The 5-Step Process to Set Your Business Up to Confidently Surpass $10 million per year in annual revenue” training happening over the next few days.