The Why and How of Listening

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Every textbook of communication would testify that incoming information is equally important as outgoing communication. Listening is a quality that is becoming rarer as time progresses.Managers are immersed in checking exchange rates when their employees talk to them. Employees are busy scribbling notes during meetings, when listening carefully might do the trick more easily and effectively. A tactician cannot plan his client’s agenda unless he listens to what they have to say and arrive at a comprehensive understanding about the root of their problem.

Listening is a world apart from simply hearing. It is a choice. When you choose to listen you are letting your mind relax and take in information that comes from an external source. In corporate communication, and more importantly public relations, this is translated to mean a level of trust. While listening to someone you give them your complete attention and time; more important than a dozen documents, emails and harried meetings. When the speaker understands you are being attentive, he/ she will have no qualms about confiding in you. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree, the fact that you choose to listen will convince the speaker that you are ready to arrive at a mutually beneficial understanding. Listening dampens conflict. This in turn increases the productivity of the work force. Employees and clients who are assured that the management will listen to them will automatically be ready to perform better. When companies develop business relationships with their customers they have to make sure their ‘listening mechanisms’ and feedback channels are fine tuned to the customers’ needs.

Take heed of facial expressions, gestures as well as non- verbal cues. Pay attention when people choose to divulge their strengths and weaknesses so that you can chart a game plan where players can collaborate to cover each others’ deficiencies. Listening is a continuous process. Apart from being an effective feedback device, listening also helps generate a general awareness about clients and their environment which in turn fosters empathy.

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