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Using Active Listening Skills for Online Conversations

Want to improve your marketability during a job search in Boston, listen up! Active listening skills help improve your ability to communication. You can use these skills in telephone-based customer service calls and also email-based conversations. Only 35% of communication occurs from the actual words we hear or read. The other 65% of the message, in face-to-face interactions, results from body language. Tone and rate of speech contribute as well. When you communicate through email, you can’t interpret these. However, you can still use the techniques to improve conversations. These include:

Ask about feelings and reactions, don’t assume you are interpreting responses correctly.
Specify the response required. The easier you make it for someone to respond, the more likely they will. Source: Effective Email

  1. Offer feedback. With Active Listening, this is a way to show understanding by rephrasing it. This technique works well in instant messenger, but be careful using it in email. Don’t send an extra email unless you are really unsure of what they mean.
  2. Use your customer’s name to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  3. Answer email quickly. If you don’t, they may wonder if you’ve received the email. If you don’t have bandwidth to handle with the issue immediately, at least send a brief reply letting the customer know you received their email. Let them know when you will send an answer.
  4. Re-read your email before you send it. Check for spelling and grammar. Read it aloud to check for sentences that might be misunderstood.
  5. Reply to long emails by quoting the customer’s points one by one. This makes your reply more like a conversation and easier to follow. Quote just the relevant issues you are responding to.
  6. Use short paragraphs. They are easier to read and understand. For maximum readability, keep paragraphs to 50 words or less.
  7. Avoid shortcuts and abbreviations.
  8. Double-check or even triple-check important emails to customers. Save a draft of a complex message. Re-read it with fresh eyes later. Wait at least 24 hours. This will save you having to apologize later!
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