How to listen well during customer interviews
  2. Discovery Interviews (Step 2)
  3. How to listen well during customer interviews

3. The PEAR listening method

Use Posture, Expression, Activity & Response tips to signal you are interested.

Let’s say you’re doing a great job of listening. But do you look like you’re listening? You will if you follow our PEAR method. To demonstrate you are truly listening, pay attention to these four behaviors:

  1. Posture: You say, “I’m listening” when you face the speaker directly, maintain an open position—without folded arms—and lean forward ever so slightly. You say, “I’m not interested” when you are slouched in your chair, have your hands behind your head, or cross your arms and legs.
  2. Expression: You say, “I’m listening” when you have a thoughtful, interested expression, and smile with affirming nods at appropriate times. You say, “I’m not interested” when your eyes wander around, have a bored expression, or fail to respond when the speaker says something that should evoke a sympathetic look or chuckle.
  3. Activity: You say, “I’m listening” with a quiet, still body, and keeping any gestures small and few… certainly not attention-getting. You say, “I’m not interested” with fidgeting and squirming, drumming fingers, glancing at your watch, or other distracting habits.
  4. Response: You say, “I’m listening” with affirming comments, such as, “OK… I see what you mean.” When you recap the essence of their message, this proves to them that you were listening. And there’s nothing like an insightful probing question to demonstrate you were listening to and thinking about what they were saying. You say, “I’m not interested” with an off-subject comment that clearly doesn’t relate to their message. Placating comments like, “right… right… right” wear thin very quickly. And “that reminds me of… me!” tells them who you are really interested in.

To see the impact these PEAR practices can have—both good and bad—check out the videos at the end of e-Learning Module 11: Listening Skills (at > e-Learning).


Keywords: PEAR, posture, expression, activities, response, signal interest, listening practices, gestures, fidget, placate, affirm, eye contact, looking at watch