The one thing they don’t teach in business school is listening skills. We learn how to look and analyze numbers, or to play the different strategies. But we aren’t taught or even told of the importance of listening and communicating with people.
But you cant get anywhere without knowing how to listen to people, especially clients and bosses. It will help you understand motives, find shared goals, and clear up any misconceptions that can stand in the way of full teamwork. Here are 3 of the most important listening skills.
What did he mention first?
What were some of the first things he brought up? This will give you an idea of his priorities. You will also notice if the topic keeps reemerging throughout the conversation.
What are your shared values?
When you understand your boss or your client’s priorities, you can then look for a shared value. People are more cooperative and motivated if they know ‘what’s in it for me’ but the good news is that many times our interests intersect. For example, instead of seeing something as a plain ‘sales transaction’ or a ‘boring department meeting’ think of it as an opportunity to look where you can work together to achieve the same goal. He wants you to meet deadline. So do you. When the department is working faster and more efficiently you can go home on time. So now you know what language to use. ‘We can double the speed by which we finish our projects if we hire two more people. In fact with more manpower we may even be able to get more accounts. Here are the numbers and the projected increase in sales.’
What are the trust issues?
Trust is a difficult and elusive quality. Without trust, you listen and talk defensively, you look for what’s hidden, you are suspicious of what might be missing. You are afraid to share all your ideas or even of letting go of power. That’s the reason why many people end up micromanaging. If you don’t trust the person you’re working with, you can’t delegate. You can’t delegate, you can’t run a business.
You build a person’s trust by showing them that you are listening. Listening shows concern, and a sincere desire to find a common good and help achieve it. Mirroring what a person says—repeating what they said, referring back to a previous comment, summarizing the conversation before providing a suggestion or an action plan—all say, ‘I hear you, I understand you, and I will help you.’
Photo from betheljacob.org