Photo courtesy of Smart Karrot
Something to Consider
Leaders are often judged by how well their actions align with their words.
It’s a pretty good measure, and leaders who get this combination right usually come off as authentic and about the work. But it’s the leaders that listen first who are the ones that reside in a truly special place that separates them from the rest.
Simple, right? Listening. We do it all the time, or at least most of us think we do.
I mean, you’ve got the hardware, are super bright and well intentioned.
So why is it that 99.99% of the time (not statistically proven, btw), communication breakdowns, missed deadlines and disagreements occur?
It begins and ends with listening and it’s not just with your ears.
Listening is a powerful business and life skill that is often overlooked and not practiced nearly as much as it should be. Especially now, in the post information age where everyone is armed with a phone, a snappy social media profile and an opinion to go along with it.
But let’s not be so critical. Listening is hard.
Simply put, communication is like a tennis match. You speak to me, I listen, then I respond. It works on paper, every time, but not so much in real life.
But with some daily practice, you’d be surprised what happens when you open your ears, open your eyes and close your mouth.
- Listening builds trust. When you listen first, you are demonstrating a little humility and giving your audience the gift of your time and attention. People notice and appreciate it.
- Listening saves time. There's a reason carpenters say, 'Measure twice, cut once.' Think about that. There's a lot of wisdom in that line.
- Listening helps you see the future. In poker, inexperienced players broadcast their hands with ‘tells', physical changes in their behavior or demeanor that provide the other players with clues about that player's hand. The signals you give off with your body, are just as revealing as any words you speak. (More on that in a minute.)
So how can you develop this critical skill? Here are 3 practical ways, with degrees of complexity!
- Put down the screen: How many times have you been to a restaurant and watched a couple at their table, each staring at their phones? That’s nutty. Put away the digital distractions, give yourself and the other person the courtesy (and respect) of your full attention and enjoy the moment away from your screen.
Difficulty level: Easy.
- Check it at the door: reserve your judgements about who the person is, what they look like or what they are saying. If you are mentally judging a person’s words or appearance, in real time, guess what? You’re not listening to them, you are listening to yourself and your hang ups. Get over yourself.
Difficulty level: Hard.
- What was that? paraphrasing or the act of repeating what someone just said, but in your own words, is one of the best ways to confirm understanding. It sends a strong signal to the other person that you are listening to what they say and fully comprehend what they just told you.
Difficulty level: Medium.
One day, we were in our first discovery meeting with a potential new business partner.
As we were meeting, I asked the other person to repeat what they just said, since I wanted to absorb the information and confirm understanding.
Harmless enough, I thought.
There was a moment of silence.
Then after the pause, the other person sighed (no kidding) and said, ‘I don’t like to repeat myself.’
And right there, I knew where this meeting was headed.
What I interpreted was a bit of ego and a level of high handedness.
I know he was highly skilled, and I am sure he’s a good person, but with a simple breath (his sigh), the pause in his speech pattern and his verbal response, it was a deadly enough combination that snuffed out any further discussion.
The moral of this story? (Hint: Don’t be that guy.)
Listening is hard, no question.
But with a little practice, you will begin to see and learn things that were always there, but you failed to notice since you were so hung up on listening to yourself!
Bounce at Work
We look forward to seeing our friends, clients and colleagues at the Continuing Education Association of New York’s 50th annual conference, in Saratoga Springs, NY on November 17-19.
Congratulations, CEANY on achieving this incredible milestone!
This year, Bounce will present with our client, Christine Zagari-LoPorto from Kingsborough Community College, CUNY. Together, we created Future InSight; a workforce discovery tool designed exclusively for adult and professional adult learners seeking guidance and answers about career pathways to map their career goals.
(Small) Businesses We Love
Amit Chitre is hands down a messaging master, media relations expert and an absolute pleasure for us to partner with on Bounce projects.
Amit launched R3 Communications because he believes in the power of words and effective communication. He brings decades of experience to all his projects having honed his skills as a TV news reporter, PR agency executive, and communications lead for an international non-profit.
Specializing in healthcare and education, Amit has helped local school districts and universities to healthcare and non-profits with strategic communications counsel.
Not sure how your message is landing with your audience? Maybe it's time to give Amit and the team at R3 Communications a call.
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