Become a Better Listener

Listen Logo (smaller)  How Well Do YOU Listen?  FACT: Better listeners are better at influencing others…

…says a recent Columbia Business School research study, LISTENING AND   ORGANIZATIONAL INFLUENCE, CLICK HERE. The study goes on to suggest that, “How well organizational members listen is  positively associated with their tendencies to influence others, over and above how well they engage in expressive communications.” Listening is one of the most important, yet under developed skills, necessary for  success in our personal and professional lives. However, if we’re going to be honest, most of us take listening for granted and we aren’t very good at it. Unfortunately, our schools don’t recognize the significance of  this reality.  In addition, for those of you who are parents, when was the last time you thought your kids were listening to you, much less in school? My friend and colleague, Executive Coach, Henry (Chip) Scholz,  reminds me that Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Ford and  Chrysler said more than thirty years ago that, “Business people need to listen at least as much as they talk. Too many people fail to realize that real  communication goes in both directions.” Iacocca also said, “I only wish that I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen.”  The reality is that most schools don’t offer classes nor teach listening skills. Bernard T. Ferrari, dean of The Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School and accomplished corporate strategist and management consultant to Fortune 50 companies, says in his book Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, that,

Become a better listener through Power Listening

“Power listening–the art of probing and challenging the information garnered from others to improve its quality and quantity—is the key to building a knowledge base that generates fresh insights.” What’s wrong with this picture? Many years ago while working for AT&T in Michigan, I hired Dr. Lyman Steil, then Chairman of the communication department at University of Minnesota and currently Chairman & CEO, Communication Development,  Inc & International Listening Leadership, to help us improve the listening skills of mid-level managers and above.  This three-day (required) class became part of the catalyst for measuring AT&T’s customer satisfaction (from the customer’s perspective), rather than an internally created metric. Ironically, what was once thought of as the holy grail of business, customer service, has been displaced in today’s marketplace by the importance of the customer’s experience. Kathy Doering, President of Ann Michaels & Associates, Ltd., one of the most sophisticated mystery shopping organizations in the U.S., understands the benefits of listening, more than most. She says, “Your front line employees are an often untapped source of innovative ideas and information on what customers think about doing business with you. Lead by example–show them the of value good listening skills. Mentor those who need help in this area and reinforce it, then, watch your business prosper.” In the article “Listening and interpersonal influence,” in the Journal of Research in Personality (2012), Author(s): Daniel Ames, Joel Brockner & Lily Benjamin said that, “The gold standard of good listening is not measured by how quiet you are, it’s about doing things to let the other person know that you are seriously considering what he has to say” We might also do well to remember that the most highly crafted presentation in the world is useless, if no one is listening. Marketing wizard and best selling author, Seth Godin has some great perspective on listening CLICK HERE. He also recently said, “your version of better might not be good enough.” Especially in the area of listening skills! Considering all that’s been written about the shortfall of this important subject, I suggest you explore what’s available and take advantage of it so you can be better!. If the topic of becoming a better listener and a better influencer interests you, check out this short video: “BECOME A BETTER LISTENER,” CLICK HERE. 

About Alan

Alan Adler is an executive coach, speaker & author.

03. February 2013 by Alan
Categories: Business leadership, Customer Experience, Human Resources, Listening Skills, Marketing, Non-profit, Recruitment & Re, Social Media/Busines | Comments Off on Become a Better Listener