Listen, Empower, Transform Part 1. Listen
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
These words are powerful alone, but together they highlight a process that may help your organization better engage with stakeholders. For this blog we will focus on the hardest part.
We all think we are good at listening. But how many times do you find yourself anxious for your friend to stop talking so you can provide a talking point, relate their experience to one of your own, or simply to give them words of encouragement? The time you spend thinking about what you are going to say is time spent not listening! You may also be distracted by that phone call you are waiting on to come through or you hear your favorite song in the background and you want to sing along. It isn't intentionally disrespectful. Life is full of distractions. So what can you do to improve your listening skills today? Here are some helpful tips
1. Ask the person to schedule time to chat. I know it seems silly to schedule a chat, but that person will be much happier when they know they have your undivided attention. By doing this you also get a better sense of how much time this person may need. What you thought would be a quick 10 minute conversation may be a 1 hour conversation to them.
2. Don't speak unless asked to speak. I don't mean stare blankly at the person you are talking to! You can say so much with your facial and hand gestures. Try not to distract them with too many gestures, but let them know you are listening with a nod of the head.
3. When asked to speak, start your response by summarizing what you heard. People feel they are listened to when they hear you recap their key points. Not only does it show that you are listening, it helps the storyteller hear it from a different perspective. It may cause them to clarify a point or sometimes it is enough to hear the recap to fix their issue (if any). You are the sounding board, so help them hear themselves!
Start practicing these 3 tips and you will be well on your way to improving your listening skills. Listening is a key tool we at Lacy Consulting Services use when engaging our clients and when interviewing stakeholders. It creates a safe space when the storyteller knows they will have the undivided attention of the person in front of them. In this fast-paced world we rarely get a chance to talk without being interrupted.