Listen to Me! Chapter 2

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What is it like to really listen to someone? Not start in with your own story. Not interrupt. Not divert. Not begin problem solving or telling them what to do. Just be quiet and listen. (And not just look like you’re listening, but listening well enough that you can paraphrase what the other person just told you.)

This is the Listening Activity given to participants in my Leadership Academies. Listeners in the activity can ask clarifying questions, and can say things and show by body language that they’re listening, but they can’t derail whatever the speaker wants to say. Their role is to be focused on the speaker and really try to hear what the speaker is saying and how they’re feeling about what they’re saying.

What is people’s response to LISTENING in this way?

  • “It was hard to listen. I wanted to jump in and tell about MY experience with what they were talking about. It was eye-opening to just keep quiet and listen.”
  • “I tend to interject a lot. It was good for me to allow a story to complete—me not side track it. I’ve been practicing since another class on listening. I get more out of conversations. And I understand situations better rather than clicking to problem solving.”
  • “I enjoyed the stories! It’s interesting when you actually listen to people!”
  • “I’ve worked with Jennifer for 17 years, but I learned more about her in these 2 minutes than in all the years I’ve known her.” (As we see, listening can be quite the team builder!)
  • “There were so many details in her story, it was hard to remember them all to paraphrase at the end. But I realized that it’s the same in the work place. People are giving you a lot of facts and information and you need to listen carefully to absorb everything.”

Attention spans are shrinking. You may have heard the common saying these days that the average person’s attention span has now shrunk to 8 seconds—the same as a gold fish! I’m not sure if this is a scientifically proven statistic(!), but I think we’ve all noticed the point it makes about people’s attention.

With all of the things that can divert us, it takes extra vigilance to stay focused on a person, on what they want to tell us, and get the information we need at work and in our personal lives.

If you’d like to help your employees understand the importance of listening in this increasingly distracting environment—and assist them in improving this skill so important to getting the information they need, building good relationships, and increasing productivity—click here to request information.

To take a quick Listening IQ assessment and see how well you’re listening, click here. ### (Return to Archives)