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The Art of Listening

With the cacophony of messaging, media, marketing and other ‘noise’ in our lives, we may hear a lot of things. Yet, hearing is not listening, and listening is critical to your business.  Listening to your customers. Listening to your employees. Listening to your advisors. Listening for nuggets of quality information that you can act upon to improve outcomes. We hear so many things but rarely do we listen.

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Listening is about both learning and adjustment.

Marketing and media can sometimes involve just a large fire-hose approach of one-way messaging. That can only get you so far. If you listen to your audience and customers, you’ll be able to improve your offering. That’s engagement. Engagement means that you’re listening to your customers, absorbing their feedback, and making the necessary adjustments that make them more happy, involved and loyal.

Management is more than just being the director telling people what to do or how to do something. You have to be willing to listen to the input of those on your team, as they are on the front lines of your business. For that matter, there’s an old adage of giving a listen to even janitors or secretaries in the business. Why? Because they often see what you can’t in terms of office culture. Never discount anyone in the building when it comes to listening. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn in the hallways as opposed to a board room or office.

I recently read a great article recently on HBR about this very topic.  They reveal 4 tactics for improved listening:

  1. Ask questions and promote discovery.
  2. Engage and support those involved.
  3. Be cooperative rather than competitive.
  4. Be a willing participant. Make suggestions and give feedback.

Here’s the link to What Great Listeners Actually Do. It drills down into the true art form of listening. I think you’ll find it as interesting as I did.

The article also reveals the 6 levels of listening. Are you applying these principles to your listening abilities? Are your managers truly skilled at listening, learning and adjusting for improvement?

On what level do you listen?

Update December 2020: The author reached out to me this month with a new, updated version of the HBR article and so I thought I’d share it: How To Be A Better Listener: Tips & Stories. I think you will find it equally helpful.

I can help. Contact me today to find out how.

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