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For the last nine years, it has been my job to make people feel special. I have other job descriptions, but making people feel special is one of the most important aspects of providing a service like massage therapy. In Steven Schussler’s book It’s a Jungle in There, he offers a variety of ways to make both clients and employees feel special. One thing he forgets to mention is being a good listener. When a client comes to me for a massage, they want to tell me the who, what, when, where, and why of their body’s aches and pains, and I honestly want to know the answers to these questions because they inform me about their needs on my table. However, listening by itself is not enough to make them feel special. I have to integrate what they have told me and use the information to address the specific areas that need massaging. In other words, listening is a two part process.

From here, I can begin using some of Schussler’s recommendations. A client may mention an upcoming birthday, so I mark it on my calendar and send them a birthday wish. Perhaps they went on a European tour since the last time I saw them. A simple “how was your European adventure?” is enough to make someone light up. They don’t expect me to remember, much less ask to hear about it. Noticing the little things makes people feel special. A compliment on a new pair of glasses or the color they are wearing can brighten their day. And without turning the table, I have successfully sold myself, too. When my clients feel heard and valued, they want to come back to see me, and not just because I give a great massage!

My clients have told me one of the reasons they like coming to me for massage is because I listen to them. I owe my listening skills to being a volunteer for a suicide hotline when I was a freshman in college. I was thinking about majoring in psychology, so I thought the hotline would be a good test of whether I would enjoy that kind of work. I went through a rigorous training program that focused on active listening. Active listening skills are useful in so many experiences. I highly recommend learning these valuable skills.

In brief, active listening begins with paying attention, offering signals to the other person that you are listening, and waiting until they are finished before responding with a summary of what they said. Sounds like an ordinary conversation, right? Well, yes and no. Active listening is focused, undistracted, and intent on making the other person feel heard, understood, and important. If active listening is utilized on suicide hotlines, you can imagine how powerful these skill are for business interactions.

If you would like to learn more about active listening as it pertains to business, visit this site on Active Listening through the webpage MindTools: Essential Skills for an Excellent Career.

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