Nothing is more frustrating than a manager who is not a good listener. Like the manager who types on his computer off and on while meeting with you, or is working his IM as you talk to him. Multitasking while you talk to someone sends a really bad message; “your not worth my FULL attention!” Unfortunately, there are more and more of these types of managers. Society is also changing what is acceptable technology behavior, so it looks like there will be even more of them in the future.
Anyone can become a good, or even a great caring listener by practicing three basic skills and one “no no!” If you do, it will give you a big advantage.
Listening communicates many things, and the most important one of them is value. You pay attention to the things that are important to you! Can you imagine a boss or employee who constantly checks and responds to email during a performance evaluation. I know of one boss who actually fell asleep while giving a performance evaluation. Obviously, he was not listening.
Listening with all your senses, body language, your mind, and your heart tells people you care. Nothing is more damaging to the business than managers who don’t care about their employees, and this results in employees who don’t care about their customers. Employees will feel their work is of value, only after they first feel valued themselves. The two go hand-in-hand.
Here are three simple listening skills you need to master.
1. Listen with your body language. Turn your belly button towards the person your talking to. This sends a clear message the person is important to you. Don’t fold your arms or cross your legs. Open up your body as you direct the center of your body directly towards them, i.e. your belly button. You will need to consciously do this. If you don’t, your body will be talking without you being aware of what it is saying. It does 50% of the communication too.
2. Listen with your mind. Ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand what they mean. This also makes it clear you want to understanding them. You will also learn something by doing this.
3. Listen with your heart. If you care about how they feel you will care about what they say. If you don’t feel it right off then make the decision to care and feel. Caring is an act of sheer will sometimes. Learning to care when you should is simply just being an adult.
Unfortunately, I have to add this one…. DO NOT INTERRUPT! DO NOT INTERRUPT! DO NOT INTERRUPT ! That was the “no no!”
The world is full of bad listeners, and a very high share of managers fit in this category. You can very easily set yourself apart from the crowd by practicing these three simple skills.
Listen with your body, your mind, and your heart. You will improve the lives of your employees and by extension your customers.
Its about the people!