Topic #13 Listening Skills for Help Desk/Support Staff
Listening is probably one of the
most important skills for success as a help desk specialist.
Through the normal course of a day,
listening is used nearly twice as much as speaking, and four to five times as
much as reading and writing (Rivers 1998).
Most people think they are good listeners but in reality, we listen
effectively only 25% of the time (Judith Filek
1997). So what are we doing the other
75% of the time? We are probably “zoned out” or thinking of something
else. In fact, most people only listen
to the first three or four words of any sentence, instead of listening; they
begin to formulate their response (Judith Filek
1997). So how does one develop listening
skills? Well, Judith Filek suggests these 12 simple
- Make a
conscious decision to listen. Put
your mind into the right framework.
notes; doing so will force you to put aside what you are currently
what you have heard the other person say.
People appreciate when you are trying to get it right. This is particularly important when the
other person is upset.
the points you hear being verbalized.
Use statements such as, “I can see what you mean”. People want you to feel their pain or
- If you
are face-to-face, nod, lean forward, and maintain strong eye contact.
- If you
are on the phone, remember it is harder to demonstrate that you are
listening. Use your voice to
demonstrate concern and involvement.
Be sure to vary your pitch and inflection. Monotones make people feel you are
disinterested. Offer frequent acknowledgements. If you are speaking to someone you don’t
know, focus on a family member’s picture.
It will help you to personalize you conversation.
interrupt. When the other person is
done speaking, take a two second breath, hold it for two seconds, and
exhale slowly. Then begin your
the other person is done speaking, frequently say just one word, “Oh.”
Typically, he or she will continue to elaborate. When they elaborate they will gain additional
focus and you will gain additional information.
schedule yourself for meetings with others when you energy is at its
highest. Before or after lunch is
risky for all parties.
- If you
know you are out of energy, tell the other person that now is not a good
time. In the end, the person will
appreciate your honesty. However,
be sure to reschedule the conversation.
your job entails taking a lot of customer complaints, replenish your
energy level. Practice stress
necessary, when a conversation is over, keep a log of what was said,
especially if more steps are involved.
Review the log before the next conversation or meeting.
is a critical skill in today’s workplace and the skill of listening is
difficult to acquire because we rarely put forth the effort to do so. Hopefully with a little time and patience you
will be able to improve your listening skills.