Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Funny, right? Unless it's you who is not being listened to.

Most of us listen to about 25% of what is being communicated to us. I know, I know, listening and communication are common threads in this blog, but there never was a more pressing time to start working on our listening skills (afterall, we do want to keep our jobs and progress in our careers, right?). So do what you can, and if you feel you are not meeting your own expectations try again, try harder and try smarter.

I have a good friend whom I always thought had the touch for changing people's mood around. The type who, after a sales person has been openly rude to him, replies "How is your day going?" Not in a sarcastic way but in the most caring and compassionate tone possible. It always amazes me to watch the results: even the rudest most abrasive people make eye contact (sometimes for the first time) and then the magic happens: that moment when an frustrated associate actually sees the person in front of him as a human being.

Besides the obvious results my friend always gets (things done right the first time, a more pleasant person to do business with, quicker service, a discount, etc.) the most everlasting result is that he's likely to have made a positive impact on that person's day and attitude.

So go ahead laugh at the cartoon. Remember all the jerks who mistreated you and vent about it.

But also remember that a graceful human being helps situations by showing, not by telling.

If your listening and empathy skills leave something to be desired, read a book on the subject, ask friends and coworkers to be honest with you and provide you feedback, practice deliberately not interrupting or thinking about what you are going to say next while your spouse, friend or coworker is talking to you, take a class (Rollins College has a fantastic class on the subject)...and most of all, when you think you are done learning...well, then it's time to start all over again.

And remember, the fact that most of us run at 25% capacity that doesn't mean that's the way it has to be. Not if you want to achieve exceptional results anyway.

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