The Art of Listening in Business

The power of listening is imperative to the success of any business.  Having a voice and being able to convey your ideas is important, but listening to your customers and your audience is crucial to understand their needs.  Spending time developing skills to help with listening is valuable for the development of your staff and organization.

Be Curious – Think about the other person and practice deep listening.  You should be interested in the person and how they tick.  If you truly listen and seem to care about the person and what they have to say, it will build a relationship that is based on familiarity and respect.

Points of View – We all have different points of view, because we have all come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences as we have grown.  Just because someone may have a different point of view doesn’t mean their view is wrong or that you even agree.  The importance lies in validating their point of view and trying to understand them and their basis for their beliefs.

Listen for Slips – Often people will truly tell you what they believe, which may be through a slip of the tongue.  Listen to what they are saying and some of the unconscious actions they may be taking during their speech.  Be careful when they state something about not meaning to say what they just did; chances are they did mean it.

Recite – Imagine that the conversation you are having will be recited back to someone play by play.  This will ensure you are actively listening and taking mental notes as the conversation continues.  Listening to others for content and meaning is a great way to ensure you are paying attention to the details.

Keep Distractions Away – There are many things that can grab our attention when someone is having a conversation.  Try to put electronics down and maintain eye contact with the person you are listening to during the conversation.  Try to focus all attention on the speaker and their words and avoid others that my try to interrupt or grab your attention.

Ask Questions – Obviously, if you are unclear of a statement or comment, please ask a question to clarify.  Try not to excessively interrupt during the conversation, but remember that questions can actually enhance the power of the conversation and lead to deeper conversations.

Listen Without Jumping – Many of us only partially listen as we try to develop responses or opinions to the topic at hand.  Try to actively listen and not consider your own spin to the story or things you would like to interject.  Wasting time developing your own thoughts is counterproductive to the listening process.

Listen to your Team – Make sure you are giving your employees a voice in the organization.  Let them discuss the issues and provide ideas to help with the organization as a whole.  Listen to the ideas and develop plans in response to those ideas in your business.

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