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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening

I had the occasion recently to listen to a person tell a story about a disgruntled customer that they had recently dealt with. As I listened to the story it became very apparent that the person was more interested in their reasons for not being able to fulfill the customer’s request rather than the customer themselves. Consequently they will probably have lost that customer’s business and any referrals that they might have made.

It saddens me to know that many people do not listen to others. I don’t mean that they don’t hear what is being said for they do. No, what I mean is that they hear what is being said but don’t validate the other person’s comments, concerns, and/or complaint. Instead they are often all to quick to gloss over the other person’s issue to expound on our own. To truly listen to a person means to actively listen to more than just the words. It means to listen to the heart of the individual, and to validate them as an individual. Hearing their complaint or problem in a manner that communicates to them that we’ve heard. Instead we try to fix them, or give excuses for why something happened the way it did, or find ways to give an alibi.

In relationships it is very important to hear the other person out. Active listening requires asking questions, it rarely involves telling statements. Yet, we are more apt to make telling statements then to ask questions. A question has a tendency to draw the person in where as a telling statement pushes the person away. I’ve actually asked the question, “If I were listening, how would you know?” The art of listening takes our active participation. It means holding back with our rebuttals, excuses and attempts to fix the other person. It really means listening in a manner that the other person is validated. It’s not that our excuses etc. aren’t important; it’s just that in the moment they speak loudly and communicate to the other person that we don’t care. There’s a time to communicate our side, but that needs to happen later. Think about it.


McElwain Hall said...

Amazing words that I truly hope I remember the next time I need to listen to a customer complaint. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

William Penn. (1644–1718). Fruits of Solitude.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Part I

Rules of Conversation

128. Avoid Company where it is not profitable or necessary; and in those Occasions speak little, and last. 1
129. Silence is Wisdom, where Speaking is Folly; and always safe. 2
130. Some are so Foolish as to interrupt and anticipate those that speak, instead of hearing and thinking before they answer; which is uncivil as well as silly. 3
131. If thou thinkest twice, before thou speakest once, thou wilt speak twice the better for it. 4
132. Better say nothing than not to the Purpose. And to speak pertinently, consider both what is fit, and when it is fit to speak. 5
133. In all Debates, let Truth be thy Aim, not Victory, or an unjust Interest: And endeavor to gain, rather than to expose thy Antagonist. 6
134. Give no Advantage in Argument, nor lose any that is offered. This is a Benefit which arises from Temper. 7
135. Don’t use thy self to dispute against thine own Judgment, to shew Wit, lest it prepare thee to be too indifferent about what is Right: Nor against another Man, to vex him, or for mere Trial of Skill; since to inform, or to be informed, ought to be the End of all Conferences. 8
136. Men are too apt to be concerned for their Credit, more than for the Cause.