Guest Post by Jerold Panas

Note from Bob:  Many years ago there were multiple “Commercials for E.F. Hutton all with the theme of “When E.F. Hutton Speaks – People Listen!”  For me, when my friend Jerold Panas speaks – I LISTEN!  Jerold originally shared his post below when he spoke to a group of Fundraisers.  If you are in Sales you can substitute “Sale” for “Gift.” If you are in Leadership you can substitute “Commitment” for “Gift.”  Whatever your goal is you will get there faster by listening than by speaking!  

If you have read anything I’ve written or have heard me at a Seminar, you know the importance I give to the art of listening.  It’s the gospel I preach.  I consider it the single most powerful ammunition in your arsenal of fundraising, marketing and selling skills.  Best of all, it’s a talent that can be learned and acquired.

Here are some observations I want to pass on.

If you listen carefully, very carefully— you will hear a gift.   Jerry Panas

  1. It often shows an extraordinary command of the language to say nothing.
  1. There is no greater compliment to a person than demonstrating a keen interest in them. You do this by listening intently.
  1. We are each blessed with two ears and one mouth— a constant reminder that we should listen twice as much as we talk.
  1. Keeping quiet at the right moments is an important ingredient for an open communication and a good conversation.
  1. Listening is the most effective possible to build and enhance a relationship.
  1. Probe and ask questions. You do this not for the sake of having something to say— but to gain information and better understanding.
  1. What should you listen for?  The little things.  Everything.
  1. Listen with your eyes.
  1. Listen with your body.
  1. Unless you know what you’re listening for, it may be difficult to know if you have the information you need when you hear it. Prepare carefully before your meeting.
  1. You don’t listen to respond.  You listen to gain information.
  1. Tilt your head slightly when listening. It demonstrates interest.
  1. Studies show that occasionally you should nod slightly three times (yes, three times!). People will talk three to four times as much when you follow this process.
  1. Listen to context, listen for content, and you’ll listen effectively.
  1. The better you listen, the smarter you get.
  1. Make certain you know more about the person than they know about you. You do this by listening.
  1. Maintain positive eye contact. It shows interest.
  1. What you don’t know or you don’t find out might hurt you if you don’t listen.
  1. What you do know will only help.
  1. The better you listen, the more you realize how little you know.
  1. Smile! It dramatically affects how people respond to you.  And they will smile back.
  1. Most of us know how to keep silent.  But few know when.  (Most of the time! Except when you are probing and asking questions.)
  1. When you talk too much, it is hard to remember all you said— and harder still to remember what they said.
  1. If you don’t ask the right questions, you’ll never get the right answers.
  1. Open questions (How? Why? What? When?) allow the respondent an opportunity to provide a full and revealing answer.
  1. If you find yourself talking more than twenty-five percent of the time, there’s a good chance you will never hear the necessary information. Listen seventy-five percent of the time.
  1. Successful selling and marketing is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is about knowing the right questions.
  1. Questions unlock hearts and minds.
  1. A question not asked is a door that’s not opened.
  1. Instead of a to-do list, consider a to-ask list to see what questions you really need answers to.
  1. When you ask a question and you pause, suddenly the listener is once again the focal point.
  1. When you want to persuade, you always get further by asking a question than by making a statement.
  1. You don’t have all the answers. But what you must have are all the questions.
  1. If you want to change hearts and minds, ask questions.
  1. I never learn anything when I talk. I only learn when I ask questions.
  1. You honor the other person when you ask questions.
  1. Listen as if you’re hard of hearing!

jeroldpanas-headshotJerold Panas is the world’s leading consultant in philanthropy and the CEO of Jerold Panas, Linzy and Partners, the largest consulting firm in the world for advising nonprofit organizations on fundraising. He can be reached at Jerold Panas.


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