How many of you work with people who love to talk, talk, talk and those who barely make a peep? I certainly have worked with both types, as well as many people who fall somewhere in between. I’ve written about how introverts can succeed as leaders and entrepreneurs and the importance of communication in the workplace as well as our personal relationships.
Showing Disinterest Will Set You Back
It helps to be reminded why listening is more important than speaking in many situations, especially in business. How many times have you asked someone to do something, and they totally get it wrong? I see this a ton at the office, especially when people are learning new things. You’d think that someone new to the workplace or given a new responsibility would be super motivated and attentive, but sadly that doesn’t always happen.
I’ve had people yawn on me when I’m sitting right next to them explaining how to do important tasks. Seriously? That is so rude! It gives me no confidence that they have the skills to do the job, and it drives me crazy when their lack of listening wastes my time by having to go back and repeat myself. These types of bad impressions aren’t forgotten, so don’t screw up with something as easy as listening. And if you have people reporting to you, remind them to be attentive!
No One Will Remember What You Said If You Don’t Listen To Them
And it’s not just new hires that are guilty of zoning out, nodding off, and letting their eyes glaze over at the office. I used to have a boss who would literally fall asleep in every internal meeting we had. I’m not talking about large lecture style meetings either, but small round table meetings in a conference room with less than 10 people.
What a bad example he set for us and we all could see him falling asleep clear as day. Maybe he said some great things in those meeting, but all I remember about him was that he wasn’t listening when the rest of us were talking. So if you have ever zoned out or actually fallen asleep in a meeting, you better kick that habit now or your colleagues will end up hating you. Grab a coffee and imagine how you would feel if everyone else was sleeping when you were talking.
Unless You’re Joshua Foer, Write Things Down!
Joshua Foer has a record breaking memory that puts all of ours to shame. For those of us normal folks, it’s way too easy to lose track of all the things running through our brains and our to do lists if we’re not organized. This is why it blows my mind that so many people never write anything down. I would be a disaster without my task lists and notes.
So this is why I encourage people to take notes when they are in meetings and learning something new. I’m not talking about writing pages and pages of full on sentences when someone else is speaking because that’s inefficient. However, writing key bits of information and bullet points really help you absorb data. And it also shows the speaker that you are paying attention and want to remember what they are saying.
Strong Leadership Requires Active Listening
Being an great speaker is important in leadership roles, but in order to become a strong leader you really need to be an active listener. You have to listen and respond to questions, understand clearly what your clients and team needs, and be receptive of feedback and constructive criticism. Think of the strong leaders in your life. Chances are high they are solid listeners!
Here’s a funny video that goes to show why it’s important to listen and write things down.
This post is sponsored by Domtar.
Financial Samurai says
It’s all about ACTIVE listening. Being engaged while saying nothing. Putting your body forward, nodding or shaking and looking into the speakers eyes. No wonder why good listening is so hard.
But once you master active listening, everything gets better. I cannot stand talkers who dominate more than 70% of the conversation. Get me outta here!
Great points. Eye contact helps a lot. Someone can say “mm hmm” every few minutes and totally not be listening. However if you combine all the active listening techniques then you will absorb a lot more information and show the speaker you care what they are saying.
Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin says
I find that if you listen to people long enough the questions you had are soon answered. Not to mention the rapport you build simply by lending an ear. Eye contact is huge as well. Great tips!
Thanks! That’s a good one on listening long enough and getting your questions answered. I have to be more patient when other people are speaking about something I have strong opposing opinions about so I don’t interrupt them, and listen to everything they want to say first.
Edward Antrobus says
I always take notes when I’m meeting someone for information. But I’m always forgetting stuff that is told to me in casual conversation.
Yeah, it’s easy to forget things in conversations that don’t take place in formal meetings. I keep my smart phone on me almost at all times for this reason so that if something comes up that I need to do later, I can quickly add it to my digital reminders list. Otherwise if I tell myself to add it later, I usually forget completely or remember I was supposed to add something but can’t remember what it was. 🙂
Edward Antrobus says
Oh, I hate that. It’s so frustrating when you remember that you are forgetting something!
I think you should listen at least 50% of the time. I usually listen even more because of my negotiation (former CFO) background. You learn what you need to know to get what you want. I think in many ways I am a better listener than a speaker although I am pretty good at asking questions.
I like that, “learn what you need to know to get what you want.” 🙂 Spoken like a pro KC! I had a difficult client once who loved to talk, so one tactic I had in communicating with him was to allow for silent pauses when I didn’t want to give in to something. It worked most of the time because he couldn’t take the silence and would back off on his requests to a more reasonable level.
Something I need to work on… both ways. Listening and sending a clear message people want to listen to. Thanks for the reminder.
You’re welcome! I need to work on listening more patiently when I’m stressed. And also not speaking in a frazzled manner when I have a lot on my plate.