The Art of Listening in Business
What is Active Listening?
Have you ever been sat down to for a job interview? I have, in fact I remember my first interview I had for a job. I remember how my knees shook, my voice trembled, how I gulped every other second trying to hide any sign of nervousness because I knew the interviewer was listening carefully to every expression coming out of my mouth.
He was looking at me with piercing eyes as if he where studying my algebra, intimidating me because again I knew he was paying close attention to everything I said. Active listening can be best defined as a proper form of listening to what the other person is saying, and is used very frequently to accomplish a goal.
For example, a doctor must use active listening to figure out how to help treat the patient, a job interviewer must uses active listening if they want to hire the person that best fit the job position. There is many examples where active listening is used, active listening can even be used from your own home, if a married couple you would use this quality to work out your differences, and if a parent active listening is very important when your child reports to you with a problem that is bothering him or her at school.
The importance of Active Listening
Why is Active Listening so important? Put yourself in position of the person that is talking, what would you like the person to do? Obviously you would like the person to just listen to what you have to say. It doesn’t change when business is involved, everybody likes to be heard when they are given the opportunity to speak. Now imagine a company whose boss is always cutting people off in the middle of their sentences, never let’s the employees talk,
Do you think he will gain confidence from his or her employees? Do you think the employees will come up to the boss and ask to discuss a problem? The answer is without doubt a NO! You want to have a good relationship with your employees because communication in the company is one of the best keys to success. Another reason for the importance of active listening is that it solves discussions. For example, one night you decide to spend some time with three of friends and enjoy the night out.
Finally, you and your friends came to an agreement to meet at a parking lot because it’s convenient for everyone concerning the distance travel. When you get there, you and your friends decide to go to a night comedy show, everyone, including you, came to the conclusion that it is best to travel in just one vehicle to arrive at the show, since the parking tickets is 20 dollars per vehicle. This prevents a hassle trying to find each other at the show when everyone arrives, and saves everyone money. The question is whose car is to be used? You and your friends start arguing about what vehicle to take all at once, giving thousands of excuses. Soon enough it starts sounding like a, “I’m louder” contest, trying to give their opinion and share their ideas by trying to defeat each other with decibel power.
Never will you and your friends come to a conclusion if active listening is avoided. This proves a good statement that active listening is without doubt very important. Though active listening is a great quality to endure, active listening can be improperly used, even in business. Sometimes we believe we are active listening but in reality we’re not, so, how can I use active listening in Business?
How can I use active listening in Business?
When talking to a person, making eye contact and simply listening may seem like you are using active listening but it’s actually not that simple. First, let me introduce you to several “what not do’s” when you are listening to a person;
Pseudo Listening is you are pretending to listen to the person but you’re not you are instead thinking of other things. Relating to what the person is saying to your own experiences as if you were rating the person with points. Showing expressions as if you where mind reading the person. Rehearsing in your head a clever response to say about what the person is mentioning.
Hearing only that is convenient to your knowledge and then wondering off thinking about other things. Filling gaps with words or remarks every time the person pauses. Labeling the person in a category that you feel the person is suitable for before the person finishes explaining.
Finally responding to the person’s emotion with jocular remarks such as “Relax it’s not the end of the world” or other remarks in that matter. Does any of these examples sound familiar? We’ve all experienced conversation like these, either we where listening to a person or someone was listening to us.
Try avoiding such behavior when listening for it causes great fatigue to the person speaking, Have you ever experienced these examples when you where speaking? How did you feel? You probably didn’t like it, now imagine when you behaved in such way when the person was speaking, the person probably didn’t like either. By avoiding this behavior when the person is speaking to you it will certainly achieve great results.
The Art of Listening
When using active listening not only do you want to listen to the person but try to feel and fully understand the words. You also prove you where listening by restating what the person said, you can start by mentioning, “What I understood is…” Also, once in a while, you may want to ask the person to clarify to what he already mentioned.
Finally if you feel you have to express an opinion do so but after the person is finished talking. It is understandable that present factors may occur when trying to use active listening, such as your worries, either small or big everyone deals with problems. Your worries may not let you focus on what the person is saying. Emotions can present itself as a factor such as grief, anger, and depression when you are trying to deal with it when a person is talking to you.
A language barrier is definitely a factor especially when the person speaks a different language. Pollution of noise is another factor, how can you be active listening when the area is cluttered with noise? Boredom, maybe the person speaking isn’t considered enthusiastic and may cause you to feel boredom. How critical the factors may seem active listening can still be done, by practice. Practicing is the key to fully apply active listening in your life and or in your business.