Monday, November 8, 2010

Two ears – One Mouth … Listening …

“To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well” – John Marshall

If the most recent elections in our country taught us one very important lesson: many just don’t listen – or want to hear – what others are telling them (sometimes called selective hearing – my wife accuses me of that all the time).

The populous of our nation has been sending a message – a very clear message – that they were not in step with the direction of our country, and they showed their discourse at the voting booth. Politicians got a strong and direct message – many lost their positions and the message resonated throughout all halls of government.

How many times have you – or someone you worked with – done the same. In a rush to get your own way and to do what you think is right when others think not, you may have been guilty of not listening – really listening intently – and the direction is lost. You find yourself on an island with one idea opposed by many, and that isn’t fun. Especially when it could have been avoided if you just think about what our supreme being gave us: two ears – one mouth. There was a message. Listen – listen, then talk.

Think of the situations:

• You sit in a meeting that seems to go on endlessly, and you cease to pay attention – or you just stop listening and start dreaming. A key message is given – and you miss it. If you feel this way at the end of a meeting, ask for a summation – “… based on what I heard today, I should be ….”. While the message or direction may not have been clear, you are taking a step to clarify.

• You are engaged in an activity or task. Someone begins to inform you of something. You can elect to keep working and half listen, or better – you can pause – listen, clarify what you heard and excuse yourself to finish your task. You’ll get the picture – the other person will appreciate your attentive listening.

• You hear more than once “… Pat, I need to see an improvement in x,y,z …” and you do not agree. You selectively listen. You dismiss that input and work to improve what you feel is important. A disconnect in performance occurs, and the result could be career fatal. To avoid this, clarify the input and fully understand it.

• At home, consumed by all you have to do, your significant other or spouse is trying to communicate to you – something that is very important to your relationship, and you don’t listen because you are not giving your full mindshare. Feels are hurt; disagreements surface. Listen – understand – and confirm. It will reduce those unpleasant disconnects.

Am I saying that you should not disagree or that discourse is wrong?

Absolutely not – no way. You can disagree, but at the same time, find common ground – and build on that as you work out your differences – and it is all through open communication and listening.

Messages can be direct – they can be subtle. But they are always there – if you are open to listening. Be a sponge.

And thank you for reading this. - Dan

Dan Moran
President & Founder
Career Management & Transition Specialists
125 Wolf Road, Suite #128
Albany, NY 12205
Office: 518-261-4212
Cell: 518-641-8968
eFax: 586-279-4212

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