Make eye contact is an the age-old communication tip. And it is important. Using your eyes to focus on the other person, ‘see’ what they are saying and more importantly, feeling, contributes to effective communication.
But…what if you aren’t seeing them? Then what? Nearly all the clients I am working with rarely or NEVER ‘see’ their prospects or customers. The communication is by telephone (including Skype) and written (email, IM, even ‘snail’ mail). So if eye contact is that important, how much communication is lost when we don’t see each other?
Some history: For decades authors have shared Dr. Mehrabian’s stats on communication effectiveness: 58% is based on body language (including eye contact), 35% on tone of voice and 7% the actual words we use. Overgeneralizing his research has caused much debate in the research community on its applicability to all communication situations. I think whether the actual percentages are accurate or not – it makes the point…COMMUNICATION is complex!
We can also deduct from the tone of his research that without ‘seeing’ our prospects and customers, we can miscommunicate easily because body language is one key aspect to clear and accurate messaging! That is why I propose that we should be more concerned with ear contact than ever before.
Yes, some may call it listening…I like ear contact as the name of this skill and concept. Why? Listening is good – ear contact adds more to the nuance of effective listening. We are always in CONTACT with the other party…we aren’t just waiting to talk – we are connecting to their words, intent, emotion and therefore their ‘hot buttons’ that can make or break our sales!
The definition of contact (from dictionary.com) is “immediate proximity or contact.” Isn’t that what is important in every communication we have? That we need to be immediately ‘near’ to the person, their problems, opportunity, wants and needs?
Tips for effective ear contact:
- Listening without distractions. Stop the multi-tasking!
- Taking notes on key points.
- Summarizing your understanding to verify what you heard is what they wanted you to know.
- Paying attention to the intent and emotion that comes with their words…and their pauses, hesitations and background noise.
Making good ear contact allows you to ‘hear’ opportunity … that you can then translate into sales.
What do you think? What connotation does EAR CONTACT have for you?