Is it possible to hear without listening?
Participants always say yes immediately…and, in doing so, their faces seem to instantly recall times they have performed or witnessed very poor listening…despite perfect hearing!
Agreed on that, I then ask: Is it possible to listen without hearing?
Suddenly there is pause in their faces, differences in their responses and in contemplating an answer to this question the real “Listening” discussion begins!
You want to join this conversation because you know from experience that there is a major difference between “hearing” and “listening”…not just because it is possible to do either without doing the other…and not just because one process is passive while the other is active…and not entirely because one process is physio-logical while the other is psycho-logical but in addition to those distinctions you know there is a difference between “hearing” and “listening” because you experience on a daily basis all the pain of miscommunication that results from poor listening…despite perfect hearing.
Poor listening can lead to many problems in the workplace, including:
Poor morale among coworkers
Assignments completed incorrectly
Uniformed decision-making and problem solving
Even workplace violence, harassment, accidents/injuries or even death can result from failure to listen effectively.
The true/total costs of poor listening in the workplace are beyond calculation.
The time, money and even human life we lose to poor listening should motivate us to improve, but we don’t.
Just about every workplace victory you can think of will include examples of excellent listening. I believe that success in life and business is ALL about Listening!
And, you agree!
I mean, everyone knows how important listening is right?
But how many of us actively work to improve our listening?
So, this article wants to actually improve YOUR listening. Its first challenge is to get the guilty verdict on our collective ineptitude as listeners. But, listening is like driving (or better yet, parenting) in that it is one of those things that we all believe we are good at yet also believe that everybody else is bad at (or not as good as US anyway).
You hope the most important people in your professional life are great listeners (the boss, the client, the vendor, the sub-ordinate, peer or assistant), and you CERTAINLY want the very best listening skills for you children, parents, spouses, friends, teammates/partners, employees, etc. But YOUR listening is just fine, right?