Listening Skills Empower You And Your Team
February 13, 2013 Leave a comment
Listening skills are an art form. No matter how good your listening skills are, the reality is that every person experiences and reacts to the world differently – our pasts are different which include schools, families, dreams, ambitions and yes – fears. Even if we have been married for years or work for the same company, our personal and professional needs are going to be unique. Therefore, it’s virtually guaranteed that what you interpret is will always be more – or less than what a person means when you listen to them.
Imagine… the miscommunication and waste of time, money and resources when we’re not fully engaged or are texting during a conversation?
Example: Two People / Two Perspectives
Have you ever watched a movie with your partner or a friend and realize that one of you liked it and the other did not? Your listening skills had to be focused on the movie – you couldn’t even talk back to the characters, yet each of you experienced and reacted to the movie differently.
In many ways I’m amazed any of us get anything done at all. Yet for all our differences there are many things we share. Our ability to be respectful and to share empathetically is critical to us being successful at work, to having great friends, and to even falling in love with a special person.
We All Make Mistakes
Having good listening skills doesn’t mean you are going to suddenly be perfect – but it will make you much more successful. We are never going to be able to get it 100% right all the time both personally and professionally. I know that sometimes – no matter how hard I try I misinterpret a signal someone sends me… or they misinterpret one I send… or I just make a mistake. We’re all human. These are the times that mutual respect, forgiveness and goodwill come into play. Goodwill is earned and gives each of us room to not be perfect but still show respect.
Goodwill is of course an accounting term (not a listening skills term), meaning the value of an intangible asset has a quantifiable value. For example, the Coca-Cola brand stands for something with consumers and therefore has goodwill. As of December 31, 2011 Coca-Cola Co. stated in their Statement of Financial Position that their Goodwill was worth USD $12,120,000. Wow! “What’s your goodwill worth?“
Ask Questions – And Let Others Ask Questions
Good listening skills and active listening means that we ask questions. Asking questions is a good thing. A question is rarely an attack (but often interpreted as one). If someone is asking a question it means they are engaged and wanting clarification. Questions show that your listener is staying with you and remaining open – not closed and / or “checking out“.
So go ahead, ask questions… and invite others to ask you questions.
Listening skills are about recognizing you have choice. They are about recognizing that you have more options than an absolute “I agree or I disagree” point of view and can embrace an “I understand and respect… even if I disagree“.
Listening skills also mean your thoughts and emotions don’t have to be adrift during a conversation – like on a raft; that your thoughts and emotions can have thoughtful purpose and explore a conversation with mindful technique – like in a kayak with an double-end paddle. Respond (control) or react (out of control). So the question becomes, “What do you choose for yourself and your team?“
Listening skills take practice and you and your team are well worth the investment.
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