Listening Is Just The Beginning…
When people are in pain or distress, one of the best things that can happen is to have someone just listen to them.
All people need to be heard and validated. Authentic active listening is practiced without passing judgment or providing prescription, just acknowledgement. The person in need must know clearly that they are important, safe and especially – not alone. Not everyone is capable of doing this and doing it well. It takes patience, time, compassion and silence on the part of the recipient.
A good listener must surrender one’s own ego and agenda and give totally of oneself to the words, beliefs, thoughts and possibly strong emotions of the person speaking. This is not always easy and often times not always convenient. However, it points out both the gifting nature of listening and its importance in building and maintaining a strong relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
Old school styles of management and leadership espousing a superior/subordinate, parent/child relationships do not lend themselves easily to the art of active listening, primarily because their foundations are based on an “I know what’s best for you” and “just listen to me for I have all the experience and the answers you need” modes of thinking.
Listening skills are also paramount in sales training for empathy production, needs probing and objection reducing purposes, but often lead to a close that benefits the listener and not the speaker. For some who have been trained in listening skills, playing the role of a listener because you have been taught its importance as a necessary skill set may not cut it in the long run because it might not be sustainable. After a while, old habits or a personal agenda creep out and snuff out any pretence of validity. The result is predictable.
In an electronically 24/7 connected and fast paced universe touted as bringing us closer, listening at a core human level could not be more important in both life and business situations than it is now.
Today’s thriving business world is one based on mutual respect, trust, teamwork and collaboration for all. Business owners and leaders are neither exempt from this equation nor the need to have a good listener available. After all, the common denominator is the human connection. Being in a position of the ultimate decision maker may appear from the outside an enviable place to be at times, but positions of authority, influence or power are often at times lonely and isolated. Having a trusted advisor and advocate can lead to better thinking and decision making.
Profitable business foundations are built on peer relationships with servant leadership footings; where after listening and validation come probing questions and more listening. Only then can anyone begin to understand the person, problem or situation at hand and begin to offer advice, council and help. There are times though, when you don’t have to do anything…just listen.