You are probably thinking that I have lost my marbles with the title of this post, however stay with me.
We put so much emphasis on clever pitches, presentations and influencing people (all important) in meetings or waxing lyrical to our partners and family about our day that we tend not to consider our listening skills.
Are we truly listening or are we just waiting for our chance to put across our point of view that matches our agenda / objective, maybe even satisfying our ego?
Test yourself; do you do any of these in
- Think about the amount of work you have already on your desk
- Think about the previous meeting that didn’t go so well
- Check your blackberry etc.?
- Concentrate solely on what you want or your ideas
- On telephone conferences put yourself on mute and work your way through emails
- Take copious amounts of notes
- Talk about your day in front of the telly, computer or whilst doing something else
If you have mentally ticked yes to any of these then you may not be ‘living in the moment’ and truly listening and have the potential to miss important chances to communicate or influence someone in the most effective way. You may be treating symptoms not the root cause and so they are less likely to see the merits in your solution. Switch off any ‘interference’ that can affect your listening.
‘I have so much work and so many meetings that I need to multi-task’ is a common objection to this, however this is more about saying yes rather than no which I will cover in future post.
Listening effectively will help time management as you will not have to cover the same ground again; you have closed the sale or articulated your point or feelings in a persuasive way.
Stephen covey said ‘seek to understand before being understood’ – 7 Habits of Highly Effective people. https://www.stephencovey.com/ (his new 8th habit is great too)
He talks about listening with your ears, eyes and heart
5 levels of listening
5. Empathetic – as active however, you are putting yourself in their shoes, noting body language, tone, pace and volume of speech
4. Active – Verbal and non-verbal nods, asking pertinent questions, recapping offering relevant insights or challenges
3. Selective – Hearing what you want to hear
2. Pretending – Nodding dog syndrome
1. Ignoring – off in your own wee world – lights are on but nobody is home
Ok so sometimes I am in the zones of 1 – 3 (clothes shopping springs to mind!) I am not perfect. It does take hard work and effort to listen well
If you have an important meeting then you need to be in zone 5 as sometimes… what is not being said is as important as what is.
Ever heard someone say ‘I dont need solutions or help I just want someone to listen’
So my challenge is to practice empathetic listening at least once a day and record how you get on. You might want to start with family members or friends, remove any distractions TV etc. sit down and ask them about their day and stay in zone 5!
Feel free to post results in the comments box. Hope you are having a great week