During the hectic Washington business week on our best days, we are pretty good information gatherers seeking solutions and changing directions because we are listening well; on our worst days, we will tune others out, draw quick conclusions, and half listen to all the conversations we are a part of all day long. How can we be both, at times, the best and the worst listeners as we work with others in the organization?
The answer lies in the degree of attentiveness (on one end) and stress (on the other) that we each have within the given moment. It simply depends on the situation and the timing, and it also depends on who we are with. Even the best listeners fail at times when they receive a message and try to understand and retain it. Listening can be as challenging as it is difficult as we listen to dozens of conversations every day that involve or are around us.
Business listening is a critical skill for success here on the West Coast and beyond. We all know that it is very easy to hear people. It is one of the five senses that we are born with and we have it on our very first day. But listening involves so much more, and it is that one sense that must be combined with a heavy dose of common sense. Because listening is the only tool we have to create, bring and implement change.
The best leaders are good listeners. Although they might be good talkers as well, they realize that they are not learning a thing if they are talking. The learning and subsequent positive change happens only with listening.
We have to remember that organizational listening is an active process. It involves:
- Point of view
- Other perspectives
- Open communication
Through these key ingredients, many things are accomplished. Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people that you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
We could not agree more.
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