Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.
How great of a listener are you? Do you think you are pretty good—or even excellent?
A study of over 8,000 people found that virtually all of the respondents believe they listen as effectively as or more effectively than their coworkers.
You and I both know this is not the reality of bosses and co-workers we interact with daily. Clearly, inaccurate self-assessment is occurring.
What about you? What if you are not as good a listener as you believe? What is it costing your career—today and into the future?
Active listening cannot be a passive exercise. It requires consciously slowing your brain. In fact, your brain just may be bored even when the speaker is not boring. Why?
Your brain processes information four times faster than the words being spoken. Look how tricky your brain is as it has mastered the fine art of appearing to be listening—and yet not be. Do you find yourself taking a break from the conversation to think about a knotty issue; or to plan a quick stop at the grocery store; or to revisit your “to do” list before once again reconnecting to the conversation?
You have to appreciate this is not a compelling listening style to rest your career success upon.
There’s another factor at work here. Active listening is more than simply the words. You are also obligated to take note of facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures because only 7% of communication is the words. A whopping 55% of the message is gained through facial expressions, body language, and gestures; and the other 38% from tone of voice. Not surprising, when you consider the spoken word was not our original language. Instead, body language has a 50,000-year evolutionary jump start!
All of these factors will have you missing chunks of relevant information.
I did not realize how much until I started watching television with TiVo. Do you remember the initial magic you experienced as you rewound to hear a particular juicy piece of dialog you missed? What a gift, but the true “aha” didn’t hit me until I was listening to a radio talk show while driving. I’d tuned-out. Picture this…. I realized I’d missed something significant, so I reached my hand out to press rewind on what was un-rewind-able! It was gone.
Most of the conversations you have in business are un-rewind-able. These harmful un-rewind-able moments are exactly what happen in important meetings or as you listen on the phone while scanning an email or in a conversation with your boss! Or any number of situations where active listening is essential.
Fortunately, you can use your magnificent thinking machine—the brain—to become an active listener. Choose to be a present, conscious listener. Without this skill, you will be hard pressed to thrive in today’s fast-paced, chaotic business environment.
P.S. If you want to learn more about this topic, listen to the iTunes Podcast on the topic at: