One of the old-fashioned skills that today goes largely unsung, a skill important to any business’ success. And that skill is… listening.
Not listening. Listening.
In today’s world, we are constantly chattering, twittering, blogging, talking. With so much talking, listening tends to go by the wayside. And by listening, I don’t just mean registering messages other people throw at you. I mean taking the time and care to interpret, understand, and empathise with someone else’s point of view.
We are always hurried, moving from one task to another, from one deadline to another, from one goal to another, that we sometimes miss listening to answers that the world gives us.
As an entrepreneur it’s important to develop an ear for what people are really saying, not so much the words but the underlying feelings and themes.
Having an ear matters in entrepreneurship. We are constantly taking information in from our clients, synthesizing it, and sending it back out for public consumption through our products and services.
The better and more deeply we listen, the more we “get it,” the more effective our communications and the more effective our offerings.
Listening also helps us build better relationships with clients (and partners). When clients move business from one business to another, one of the biggest reasons they cite is that their old service provider “doesn’t understand my business.”
Active, thoughtful listening goes a long way to helping you comprehend the nuances of your client’s challenges and needs. And it shows respect.
Listening as a skill that can be taught. We must first learn “to avoid the trap of constantly focusing on how you are going to respond to what the other party is saying” instead of simply listening.
The next time you find yourself harried and multitasking while someone is speaking to you, take a deep breath, slow down, and give your colleague or client your fullest attention.
If you don’t, who knows what you might be missing.