A person who reports to you has a problem. They knock on your door to ask if you have a minute. They tell you about their situation and you know exactly what the solution is. Feeling really smart, you give them the answer, save the day and send them on their way. The next week they are back with the same type of problem expecting you to solve it for them.
Your biggest customer calls you and explains that your proposal is not exactly what he or she needed and that they have chosen another vendor. You were sure that you had the best product and price yet the competition has the order.
Your teenager looks at you as if you are from Mars, when you tell them that they cannot have a smart phone just because all of their friends do. You don’t understand why they do not get it. After all, you have explained your position several times.
“Listen Learn and Lead” John C Maxwell
To influence others we must be genuinely interested in people. Understanding their prospective can make all the difference. If our ears work we can all hear, yet effective listening is one of the rarest and most important skills. It is a learned behavior.
How do we make that connection? Make more sales? Have greater influence?
Look at the speaker – Not your phone, computer or the TV. Give them your undivided attention. (Preaching to myself on this one)
Listen more than you talk – Overall, in a one on one conversation, attempt to listen 75% of time – speak 25% of time. If you are in a meeting of several people you should do even less talking. One definition of a bore is a person who is talking when you want him to listen.
Be genuinely interested in their thoughts, opinion and experiences. – We each have our own map of the world. You weren’t with them every second of their life so learn all you can from everyone you meet.
Do not think about what to say while you are also trying to listen to the speaker. – I know you have a speedy brain and lots to do, but your brain can easily leave the speaker behind and you will miss critical points. Trust that you will know how to respond to the speaker when the speaker is done.
Listen for the central ideas, not for all the facts. –Experienced listeners develop a sense for noticing the most important themes and ideas from their employees. If you notice the major ideas, then often the facts “come along” with those ideas.
Let the speaker finish. Do not interrupt – When they are done pause and then respond.
Ask questions, reflect back and ask if you are hearing accurately. – Try this. “So help me understand” or “If I hear you correctly your biggest concern is….”
Regularly share indications that you are listening to them. Those indications can be, for example, nodding your head, saying, “Yes” to short points that you agree with.
Be totally present in the moment. – Let go of your own agendas and intentions to influence, control, or direct.
“One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.”
— Dr. E. H. Mayo
When you make a clear, conscious choice to listen without judgment, to fully learn and understand what others have to communicate, you will inspire greater trust and enjoy greater mutual respect. Listening with your heart as well as your head and your ears will give you the right to lead and have true influence over others.
Contact me to find out more about how I can work with you and your team to develop a culture of excellent service.