Hello Out There. Is Anyone Listening?
In today’s constantly connected, multitasking world, listening is more important than ever. Unfortunately, it’s fallen to the bottom of our priority list.
Listening is where meaningful communication and relationships start. In business, listening is especially important. It’s how you build trust, manage disagreements, inspire your people and enhance commitment. At Sodexo, one of our core values is team spirit. Listening is fundamental to developing and nurturing successful teams.
Bill Marriott, executive chairman and chairman of the board of Marriott International, Inc. that summed it up well: “The four most important words in the English language are, ‘What do you think?’. Listen to your people and learn.”
Bill’s right. Listening is how we learn, and it’s one way we improve our quality of life every day. In fact, as much as 85 percent of what we know is learned through listening. But we only understand about a quarter of it.
So, how can we become better listeners and learners? Here are three QOLhacks to get you started:
- Give your full attention and don’t interrupt. Stop what you’re doing and show that you’re interested by maintaining eye contact and leaning forward. Avoid fiddling with objects or checking your computer, phone or watch. As they speak don’t interrupt. Often, we think we know what a person is going to say before they finish their sentence – so we decide to finish it for them! Or, we’re more interested in our response than what they are saying. Guard against the tendency to jump ahead and instead be present in the moment.
- Listen beyond the words. Pay attention to body language and delivery cues. Research shows that in spoken communication, 55 percent of meaning is translated non-verbally, 38 percent by tone of voice and only 7 percent is conveyed by the words used1.
- Restate and clarify. Show that you’re engaged by periodically restating what the person told you or asking clarifying questions to check your understanding. Use phrases like these:
- “So what you’re saying is that…”
- “Am I right in thinking that…?”
- “Putting it another way, would you say…”
What other tips do you have for effective listening? Please share them in the comments section below.