We’ve heard the command since we were old enough to talk. “Listen up!” said our parents, teachers, coaches, and instructors. It’s easy to become numb to the idea of listening, or at least fall into the habit of listening poorly. However, the value of hearing what clients, and their customers, have to say can’t be overstated. That’s a key element of what we do here at KW2: we put our customers first.
Listening can help improve the efficiency of your business, streamline your practices, and bolster your relationships with customers, co-workers, and personal contacts. Here are 5 easy strategies to consider:
1. Listen without distraction. Put down the phone. We’re all multitaskers in theory, but science tells us that we actually are just shifting focus between tasks momentarily and with great speed. That means you miss details if your attention is divided, even slightly.
2. Actually listen. If you’re talking, you’re not hearing what is being spoken to you. There will be times where you need to speak up, but allowing your mind to absorb what is said helps YOU in turn develop better ideas and retain information.
3. Ask clarifying questions. This helps avoid confusion and mistakes down the line since you’re ensuring you have complete and accurate information. It also helps the speaker feel that you value and understand what they say.
4. Doodle. Yes, draw things while you listen. It engages the visual parts of your brain, and it helps you avoid other, more involved distractions. Fast Company’s article, “How to Turn Your Mindless Doodles into Productivity Enhancers” suggests what your doodles say about you and how you can turn them into productive tools.
5. Don’t agree with everything, but be prepared to change your mind. Inspire true dialogue by challenging assumptions and the status quo. Take a moment to think. What were we trying to accomplish? What was said? What underlying meaning was there in the conversation we just had? Then DO. Innovate and explore as many ideas as possible to arrive at the best one.
Better listening leads to informed, more efficient decision-making. Engaging your customers, your staff, your peers by truly listening to them ensures that you miss the mark less. Ideas come from everywhere … are you willing to hear them?