When I speak to groups of small business owners and entrepreneurs on the topic of communication, my message is consistent. Of the three elements needed for effective communication to take place; listening, writing and speaking, the most important of these is listening. Why? Because it is in the listening that we ensure there is understanding.
Listening isn’t just about opening our ears either. It’s about being open and receptive, in principle, to new ideas, suggestions and considerations. Listening is ACTIVE. We must lean in, participate, nod our heads to encourage continued conversation and we need to ask questions to ensure clarity. Most of all however, we need to listen to HEAR not to RESPOND. What do we mean by this?
Listening to hear is about patience. It concerns the principle that we must be actively engaged in the conversation from the perspective of gaining understanding, not listening for the sole purpose of formulating our own arguments in response to what is being said. Listening to hear is about waiting for the “whole.” Waiting for the speaker to complete his / her thoughts, pausing to think about those words and then responding. Too often we are each of us poised and ready to pounce in response to something we heard at the beginning of a sentence, to the exclusion of all that came after it. That’s not listening, that’s debating. It’s a “point – counterpoint” approach to speaking that suggests a “Who will win this conversation” point of view.
Listening to respond is also about remaining IN the moment. Connected to the speaker and not connected to any of our many devices. Few of us can actually multi-task effectively and most of us are much better off to focus on one task at a time. Active listening means put your phone down. It’s time to be connected, to each other rather than our devices. Finally, from a customer service point of view it’s about listening to what your customer is actually asking for, rather than telling them what you think they need.
Active listening and listening to hear, not to respond, help bridge the gap between you and your intended audience. It is the key to effective communication. Let’s all put our devices down for just a few minutes and practice #beinthemoment. Make it your personal mission, starting today, to actively listen – whether to your kids, co-workers, spouse or customer. Drop the constant need to hashtag your conversations or to answer back in defensive mode. Instead #GiveActiveListeningATry. (Oh the irony…..we just couldn’t resist!)
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!