Lisë Stewart, founder of the Galliard Family Business Advisor Institute, explains her technique for really listening to clients in her work with family-owned businesses.
Step 1: Stop
That means slowing down. I take a deep breath and I stop thinking about what I wanted to say.
Step 2: Search
This means that I’m trying to search their face, their eyes, their expression, their physical body language—not just the words they’re saying, but all of the other visual cues that are coming out. I try to search for the underlying meaning of what they’re trying to say, so I’m really trying to pay attention.
Step 3: Summarize.
By summarizing, it means I’m trying to summarize in my own head what they just said. That sometimes means taking a pause while they’re still talking and trying to figure out the meaning of what they’ve just shared.
Step 4: Survey
That means I’m going to ask them some questions about what they just heard. Perhaps I’ll repeat back, paraphrase what they just said.
Step 5: So? As in, “so what happens now?”
How do I lead on from what they just talked about? Instead of just trying to get my own opinion in, I’ll ask: Where to from here? What do they want me to know, and did I get it?
5S: Stop and Listen.