Improve your listening and improve your results. It is a learnable skill. By becoming a better listener, you can improve your productivity, and your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate.
You have budget responsibility, and that means ensuring you are actively seeking out opportunities. If you focus your activities on developing listening skills, you can more readily find ways to build employee engagement, customer experience, and your company culture. Regularly practiced, listening will help you avoid conflict and misunderstandings.
Listening is a tool you can use to grow your company and achieve organizational goals.
So, what prevents us from taking that leap of active listening … and, what can we do about it?
Could it be that the problem is in us, and how we approach communication? Maybe we don’t give others a reason to listen to us. We either haven’t planned nor are clear about our intention in a conversation.
Research shows that only 2% of people have been trained to listen. Another perspective is that we must reflect on how present we are when someone is speaking to us.
If you are having a conversation, and in the end, it seems like:
- Everyone is on different pages; or
- You don’t reflect what we have heard to ensure we’ve heard correctly; or
- A pattern emerges and the conversation shuts down…
Here are three guidelines that we at Red Direction use which continue to prove useful:
- Acknowledging that listening is equally important as speaking.
- Being prepared to take time and listen.
- Focusing physically on another person, eliminating distractions.
Red Direction tapped ten business leaders to share their top listening skills tips.
“You have to establish a culture to not only be open to learning about other people, but taking time to talk to other people and find out about the whole situation. " – Phyllis Weiss Haserot: President & Founder, Practice Development Counsel
“One of the biggest things we learned was to ask the correct questions. You can ask the question and get the answer that you want. But it may not be the correct question for what you’re trying to accomplish." – Edwin Williams: Founder Zen Hammer
“You can start to build credibility when you intentionally connect with people. When you actually set out to do that as your mission." – Liz Wendling: Owner of Insight Business Consultants and The Rainmaking Academy
“Always ask, ‘What’s really going on behind that,’ and learning to look at what’s beneath the surface from one’s actions." – Laura Bachman: Founder Bachman Group
“One thing I know from having a listening practice: you need somebody’s attention. Know when you have it, and when you don’t, when you’re face to face with somebody." – Marilyn Shannon: Founder, Dialogue Inc
“As the leader it’s not to notice where the conversation is going, but is [rather] noticing who is left behind, and how to bring them along.“ – Oscar Trimboli: Speaker, Author, Mentor
“By being able to actively listen to a prospect or a customer, you get to uncover a lot of different pains and problems that… might not be surfacing as they talk.“ – Rodolfo Ramirez: COO swivl
As an additional reading material, we suggest following articles:
How To Listen To Be Heard In Business by Anne Iversen, Forbes
Great leaders are invariably intent listeners, but they still need to make the practice a priority by Adam Bryant, Strategy+Business.
We hope these publications, and advice from our featured business leaders will help you hone your listening skills, communication with your customers, and grow your business.