Listening to Every Word
Listening is important. We all know that. But, many of us don’t demonstrate that we know listening is important. We are busy preparing a response rather than listening to every word spoken and to watching how the speaker is acting while he or she is talking. We may miss the opportunity to ask a question to gain further insight into what the person is saying.
People are trying to tell us something when they talk. Some people are very good at speaking and make the job of listening much easier and certainly more enjoyable. But those people are, unfortunately, relatively few and far between. The truly good communicators among us stand out. We all know those people who simply have a commanding presence about them that compels us to pay close attention. We also recognize how rare those people are.
If we are to be good listeners, though, we have to be active listeners so that we can help those who may not be gifted speakers deliver the content of their thoughts so that we can benefit from that delivery. We might give a nod to let them know that we really are listening. Or we might smile at something they said that had a humorous side to it. We might lean in closer as the person is talking so they recognize that we are intent on hearing what they’re saying. We certainly can also ask questions if we need more information from the speaker.
We need to be in full listening mode and not already mentally preparing our response while the other person is still making his or her point. If we do that, we risk missing an important element of the speaker’s thought that is being expressed.
Stop for a moment and recall the last time you were talking when someone appeared to have blanked out. You probably saw that, or at least sensed that, and you probably made note of that. It probably didn’t make you more appreciative of that person. If that person was selling something, you probably didn’t buy it unless the product or service had an exceptional reputation and you’d already mentally bought it before the presentation began. In such a case, you might be receptive in spite of the delivery of information. In that case the product sold itself. That seldom works in the world of employment interviews.
Listening is important in the business we are in. We know that and we work hard to be sure we hear what you, our client or candidate, are saying. We may ask a lot of questions but that is simply so that we can be sure we know precisely what you are saying to us. If we don’t get that right, there is not as much likelihood that our relationship will go further as each of us hopes that it will. If you’re not sure that we’re listening as actively as we should be, please be good enough to tell us you don’t know if we heard what you said.
Listening is as important to us if we are interviewing a client or if we are interviewing a candidate. We work hard at both. But we can always learn how to be an even better listener. If you sense that we missed your point, please don’t hesitate to restate the point you were trying to help us understand.
Tom Krist – President