On Listening…

Last week, I was discussing further developments and updates to our own employee curriculum. I was receiving information from Doug Ausbury and Angela Moore regarding the big picture vision for Intrapromote and continuing to grow our own employees. One resonating topic we discussed was Listening Skills.

We agreed while we all pride ourselves on being good listeners there is always room for improvement whether it is with a client, a spouse, a child or friend. The overwhelming consensus was that if we were not just good listeners but great listeners the benefits were far-reaching beyond Intrapromote and our clients.

When it comes to Customer Service, I have been inspired over the years by Dale Carnegie, so I often go back to find a quote that sums it up. On the subject of listening, this is my favorite:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” —Dale Carnegie

I also refreshed myself on some Carnegie materials and decided that before just jumping in to assess my listening skills, it may help to put this all into context and understand what is really happening during the listening process.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Listening is only one side of the conversation; and is considered the neglected side.
• Recognizing listening is an active process is important.
• Most of us need to recognize and overcome listening filters to be effective listeners.

Some may ask, “How it is possible to pay closer attention, to be a better listener?” so this context may also help:
• A typical adult speaks at 100-150 words per minute.
• You can actually hear and understand at a rate of 200 words per minute or more.
• That boils down to having excess capacity for active listening.

Next I thought through how I can improve my active listening. There are a plethora of books and materials to view that discuss honing your listening skills. For a quick self-check, here is what I started with:

  • How can I be a great listener?
    What is it like to be an active listener?
    What do I want from someone who listens to me?
  • Do I show I am listening through my non-verbal communications such as eye contact, head nods, smiles, etc.?
  • Am I focused on the speaker and do I paraphrase to confirm my understanding?
  • Do I understand and appreciate the values, feelings, perceptions and attitudes of others?
  • Am I sincerely curious about what others think, their ideas, concerns and am I open-mined?
  • If I do not understand, can I admit it?
  • Do I pay attention to someone else’s non-verbal communication?
  • Can I truly say I am an active listener or do I need to ask that people repeat themselves because I am easily distracted?

The benefits are even further reaching when we master and practice great listening. There is a lot for us to gain in the process, for example:
• Advice and ability to solve problems.
• Attributes in our own character that demonstrate tolerance and patience.
• Harmony in our relationships
• And much, much more.

Final food for thought to make someone’s day:

“There is only one rule to become a good talker, learn how to listen.”
– Anonymous

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