Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Listening" Still Underrated?

In a recent Leaders' Edge column in Disclosures magazine, I discussed the underrated art and skill of listening and provided some tips in improving your skills.

Are you a good listener? Most of us are not. In a short video, Tom Peters recently trashed "bosses" and "managers" (and most of us) for not being more intentional about bringing listening to the forefront of our "strategy" as organizations.

Let's face it though. Listening is hard work....
  • Sometimes we'll hear things we don't want to hear!
  • We were NOT taught how to listen better in school.
  • Being a better listener is not always immediately rewarded.
  • The subject itself can seem boring or make us feel defensive - "I listen well enough!"
  • We have to be fully present to listen, which is hard in our fast paced demanding world.
  • There may be stereo-types working against us ... We accountants are "counters" not listeners. We are "requesters" not listeners, and we relay "knowledge", not our listening.
Let's make it real simple here: Think about the people in your life that you get along with best. Think about the people that make you feel good about yourself. They probably have many different strengths and personalities but the chances are they LISTEN TO YOU! They provide you a gift, and that gift leads to new possibilities and results in your life.

People have told me, in a class setting no less, that when they were talking with another person and they felt like they were not listened to well ... they did not want to listen well "back" to that other person. This is in a communication class where we are practicing listening! So can you imagine how this affects us in the "real world." Listening (or lack thereof) is highly contagious.

st try tomorrow, or better yet in the very next conversation you have .... give that other person more of your "gift" and see what happens.

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