People like to be heard. More than that, it’s a genuine need. It’s a wise, effective business owner or executive leader who knows this and sets time apart in his or her schedule to do just that: listen.
Listening is necessary at all times, but crucial when standing at the doorstep of change. That’s a threshold you don’t want to cross without giving team members an opportunity to speak, or you risk crossing it on your own with nobody following behind.
According to the International Listening Association —yes, it exists— numerous studies show that listening beats out talking as a top skill required for success in business. We are so distracted, not present, or forgetful that scientific research says we recall only about half of what people say, which means all of us could fine-tune our listening skills.
To listen better:
- Interpret what is being said. More than hearing, it is listening to learn and understand.
- Observe. Pay attention to the facial expressions, the body language, the tone of
voice. (Mind your posture too. It has to be open and be sure to maintain eye contact.) Over 50% of the meaning of the message is transmitted through body language.
- Ask for clarification, to ensure understanding.
- Ask questions. Make sure they are open-ended. A skillful negotiator will ask
questions to draw out the other person’s concerns and feelings and use that
information to help make their point.
- Validate what you heard, even if you don’t agree with it.
Listening involves the capacity to absorb what is happening around you. It builds trust and it creates an adequate space for problem solving and for smoother transitions going forward. Count on it, your moments of silence will later prove golden.