“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”, could Stephen R. Covey have said it any better? You’ll find most people are this way, they aren’t really listening to what you’re saying, and they’re just waiting for their turn to talk again. If our goal is to create an environment that our employees look forward to coming to, having someone truly listen could make the difference.
Carnegie tells the story of a dinner party he attended. He was seated next to a botanist during dinner and struck up a conversation with him. He asked him a couple questions about what he did and the botanist went on all night talking of exotic plants, and interesting facts about all kinds of common vegetables. Carnegie hardly ever said a word. At the end of the night the botanist paid compliments about Carnegie to the host saying he was ‘most interesting’ and ‘an excellent conversationalist’. How could he have been a good conversationalist if he hardly said a word? Because people want to be listened to!
Last Saturday I was at the dealership having my oil changed and I happened to be seated next a man who was sketching in a grid lined notebook. I glanced at the drawing and noticed the architectural marks for a door and stairs. All I said to him was ‘Are you sketching a house?’ and it struck a conversation that went on for the next half an hour about his career as an architect, his crazy client stories, and the cabin he was designing for his property. I listened intently and when his car was done he asked my name, after I told him he let me know I was ‘very intelligent for my age’. How would he know? All he knew was my name, and that I knew a very small bit of architecture; but truly listening with the intent to understand gives people a feeling of importance that not many people give them.
There are countless stories of customers who have been in the wrong, or owed money, that are steadfast and immovable on their opinion of the situation until someone gives them the chance to just talk it out. Most often when they are heard out they come to the same conclusion and the issue is resolved. Why don’t we do this with our employees? This week take the time to listen to understand, not to reply, and hear people out. You may find they come to the same conclusion you were trying to tell them, and it will create a feeling of importance that makes people look forward to coming to work.