Are You REALLY Listening?

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on August 16, 2012

I do lots of reading on American Express’s Open Forum. It’s a great resource for everyone in business, but is especially meaningful and useful to a small business person, such as myself, who works out from home and doesn’t have the typical office interactions that those who work outside the home in corporate settings do.

This article by Stephen Shapiro, self-described “Chief Innovation Evangelist” and author of “Best Practices Are Stupid,” the #1 Innovation Book of 2011, really got my attention.

He recounts being on an airplane when things went wrong. Although fellow passengers (and he) didn’t really listen to the crew members’ instructions before the flight began, once there was an inkling of trouble just before landing, everyone aboard really started to listen.

Shapiro offers up several hints to listening better in What It Means to Really Listen:

The first step to listening better is to recognize the fact that you don’t. Ask yourself the following questions:

• Are you really hearing what others are saying?  Or are you only passively listening?

• Are you focused on their words?  Or are you thinking about what you will say next?

• Are you putting yourself in the shoes of the other person?  Or are you only interested in meeting your own objectives?

• Do you ask a lot of questions?  Or are you doing all of the talking?

• Are you hearing what they are really saying?  Or are you too colored by your own perceptions, judgments and filters?

This last question is critical. If you are honest, you will most likely begin to see that your filters are getting in the way of communication. By recognizing that you even possess these filters, you can become more aware when they begin to color your interpretations. This allows you the choice to set them aside so you can create an effective opening to listen.

Are you really listening to those around you today? Do you register what your family and friends are saying, or just nod and go along with the status quo? Can you be a better listener, starting today?

 

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