I attended a program by PEBEC (PRESIDENTIAL ENABLING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL) which centered on how government parastatals and business owners can work together towards increasing the ease of doing businesses in Nigeria; it was such a great event and was very engaging.
After the event, the slogan on the screen got my attention: LISTEN, IMPLEMENT and TRACK.
It got me thinking; yeah this is a basic principle for growth in businesses or even in your professional growth.
But the keyword there is Listen because you must listen to be able to Implement or Track.
Well not only in businesses even in our relationships with our partner, children, friends and parents.“ you know how we could be doing something else and our kids will be like mummy are you listening. We nod our heads like we understand what they are talking about but most of the time our minds are somewhere else even if we are looking at them”
I get it; at times, our minds are too preoccupied with different things that even if we planned to listen, we just see ourselves drifting away subconsciously.
However, to build a strong relationship we must learn to listen and understand each emotions that comes with each words.
Michael Nichols in his book; The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships, reveals that: ”not listening is the first step in destroying relationships”.
In our business or professional life, we know that if we do not listen effectively to understand our clients we may end up losing them.
The good thing is that listening is a skill and like any other skill we can learn to improve on it and so here are some practical ways that we can use to learn how to listen.
– Listen to the words and try to create a picture of what the speaker is saying.
Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Your brain will do the necessary work making to you stay focused and alert.
– Do not interrupt or impose your “solutions”.
If you are a quick thinker and talker, consider the person you are talking to and slow down your pace. After all, we were taught as kids that it is rude to interrupt someone that is talking to you.
– Wait for the Speaker to Pause to ask Clarifying Questions
When you do not understand something, you should ask the speaker to explain it to you when the speaker pauses.instead of interrupting the speaker.
– Keep an Open Mind
Learn to listen without judging the speaker or mentally criticize the things they say. When you indulge in judgmental bemusement, you have compromised your effectiveness as a listener
– Maintain Eye Contact while Facing the Speaker.
In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication.
It is a known fact that majority of direct communication is non-verbal. We get a great deal of information about each other without saying a word. When facing a speaker, the person can detect interest, boredom, or irritation very quickly in the expression around the eyes, the set of the mouth, the slope of the shoulders. These are clues you cannot ignore. When listening, remember that words convey only a fraction of the message.
Applying these very practical steps in Listening will help us a great deal in moving on to the other equally important phases Implementation and Tracking