Practicing the Art of Listening
If you can master the art of listening, you can master the art of business. It’s as simple as that. And yet, it’s not that simple at all! Listening is a critical skillset that is all too often ignored when it comes to honing our management skills, but it’s something that should really be focussed on a great deal in order to run a successful business.
Studies have shown that adults spend an average of 70% of their time engaged in some sort of communication, of this an average of 45% is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading, and 9% writing (Adler, R. et al. 2001).
It’s important to realize that listening means more than simply nodding in conversation, it’s an active process during which we make sense of, assess, and respond to what we hear.
There are five stages to the listening process:
This process allows us to gather and interpret all of the information that’s being shared with us. But, unfortunately, it’s a process we don’t always adhere to. A good business leader will make every effort to actually listen to and hear what the other person is saying. As you work your way up the executive chain of a company, you become more and more detached from the ‘people on the ground’, so it’s imperative that you work on your listening skills in order to keep ahead of what’s going on in your own business. Your employees should feel able to come to you with any concerns, and and by actively listening to their concerns to can deal with any adverse situations sooner rather than later.
“We have two ears and one mouth, so that we may listen twice as much as we speak.” – Thomas Edison
So how can you become a better listener?
Be Objective: The most powerful listeners know how to look at a situation objectively and put their own egos and agendas aside. They like to be right, but they’re always open to being wrong.
Focus Your Attention: If an employee comes into you for a chat, they’re asking for some of your time. By continuing to tap away on your computer or take call on your iphone, you’re refusing them your full attention and the employee may not feel truly valued as a result. An employed who feels like their grievances are being heard, is less likely to become disengaged and more likely to come to you with any further concerns in future.
Show That You’re Listening: Use your body language and gestures to show that you’re listening and paying attention.
Put The Speaker At Ease: Help the speaker to feel free to speak their mind and ensure that you respond with empathy and understanding at all times.
Patience Is Key: If you tend to simply wait for someone to stop talking, so that you can state your own point – then you’re really not giving them the attention they deserve. If someone pauses in conversation, it doesn’t mean they’re finished talking. Watch out for cues and ensure that you give the person room to get their point across without them feeling rushed and flustered.
Once you’ve mastered the art of listening, you’ll instantly start to see the results. From creating a more productive workplace to improving morale across the salon floor – the benefits are endless!