Listening is so, so, so important in communication.
Over the past month, I’ve had an interesting experience with a vendor that blatantly ‘refused’ to listen.
I’m choosing decorations for an event I have, and after I pick what seemed to be the nicest to me, the vendor tells me:
“The designs you’ve chosen are… not on the latest trend. They’re considered old-fashioned.”
I’m a little taken aback, but after looking at the other options, I’m happy to go with my initial choice. I tell him,
“That’s ok, let’s go with this option. I like this”
My vendor shows no reaction. He simply repeats,
“This is old fashion, now the trend is for this, this and these (pointing out other designs that look like crap to me)”
I feel he must not have heard me the first time, so I repeat,
“I know my choice isn’t of the latest trend, but I’m okay with that. Let’s go with my choice of decor”
Again, my vendor says
“You’re making a huge mistake. This is not the latest trend…”
At this point, I realise that he’s not really interested in what I want. He’s just keen on pushing the designs that he feels will suit my event. I politely smile, tell him I’ll think about it, and leave the meeting.
By the time I got home, I know I don’t want to work with this person. He doesn’t have active listening skills. He simply listens to respond. That’s what most of us do when we feel emotional about something
Active listening is all about listening to understand. If my vendor had listened, understood my motivations and asked me some follow up questions based on my answers, I’m sure I would have engaged him.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t present in the moment.
The same issues happen at work. Sometimes when we’re too engrossed in our own agenda, we stop listening to understand. We simply listen to provide another ‘rebuttal answer’ that pushes our agenda. This usually happens when we’re too emotional about the subject at hand…but that topics’ for another day.
Let’s strive to listen actively. There’s so much we can learn about a person with just eye contact and pure silence when someone is talking. Everyone’s talking so much today, that when you simply sit down, put your phone away, and actively listen to someone, he or she will adore you for it. Fight the urge to chip that wonderful thought you have, and just listen.
Your turn will come.
Go test it out and let me know what was different!
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