OMP# 56: Cheers Ears!

“You can learn more in a minute of listening than you can in a day of talking”. Alan R. Ehrlich

“Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I’m not listening”. Homer Simpson

How fast do you talk?

Popular opinion says that most of us talk at 125 words a minute.  I put this to the test and hit 198 words in a minute at maybe a touch over my usual pace.

And how fast do you listen?

Our massive humanoid brains can absorb and comprehend words much faster.  We have the capacity to take in at least 500 words an hour.

So, it seems there’s a deficit.  Our brains are only engaged for about 25-50% of the time while we are listening.  At Natural Training, we are intensely interested in what the brain is doing for the rest of the time.  And after 6 years of being in the business of helping salespeople sell, here are our findings:


– 15% – are truly involved in the conversation, being empathetic, actively demonstrating that they are listening.

– 85% – are waiting to speak, interrupt, offer advice or solve a problem/objection that may not need solving.  In other words they are self-focused, not client-focused.

Is there a solution?

Part of the solution is prevention.  There are 4 language skills – listening and reading (receptive skills), writing and speaking (productive skills).   Usually sales people are recruited for their productive skills, namely the speaking and writing.  So, the thing to do is recruit sales people for their listening skills.

The other part is training.  Think of listening a bit like a muscle that can wither and die without training.  There are a whole range of exercises you can do to build the listening muscle, which is a mix between the psychological (why do I want to listen?), the skills (active listening) and the behaviours (shutting up being the most important!).

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