When I was younger, my mom used to make a comment about something I should stop doing or start doing. I would ultimately make a comment or an excuse back to her as soon as she was finished speaking. As a result she would insist that I did not say anything (talking back) in regards to her comment unless it was yes ma’am, meaning I understood or no ma’am (used very carefully). Simply put, she wanted me to just listen. The only time I was allowed to “talk back” was when I was asked a question during her commentary. However I still had to make sure I knew which questions were rhetorical. Any many cases this was irregardless if I was right or wrong. The only solution I had at the time to get in the last word was to do what I was told, let it play out and then approach my mom to prove my side or make my pitch to justify previous action or lack thereof.
This skill of speaking only when asked is a great skill for business. I’ve heard horror stories of people talking themselves out of deals because they’ve failed to listen attentively or become defensive because someone misunderstood their pitch.
Listening without offense is a skill that is rare but effective. Sometimes people can talk their way into an unnecessary commitment or talk their way out of a needed scenario. This is due to speaking without first hearing the information from the other party that may be needed to make an informed decision regarding the next step.
So the next time you are listening to a client, just listen. After listening then speak. You will often find that a person can talk themselves out of problem and talk you into their solution just by you saying, “I understand” (equivalent to yes ma’am or sir) and letting them pass the conversation to you by asking a question.