By Michael VanBruaene, Big4.com Guest Blogger
Organization success requires productive human connection. And while there may be an emphasis on how to communicate ideas, it’s also most important that the communicator and recipient of the communication/discussion are effectively listening to each other. It’s the key to understanding the content being discussed – our respective perspectives, motivations, and ideas.
To listen well is hard. We have to overcome ego, feelings, externally imposed circumstances, time constraints, how we feel physically, culture, personal chemistry, and more. And we want the other person to fully listen and understand what we are communicating, while we may not have that commitment.
Because each of us is unique and sees the world from our own unique positions, listening is critical, and applies to in-person, telephonic and even written communications such as e-mails and texting where the listening is about understanding the context and motivation of the communication along with its content.
Granted, every communication event should not be an extensive, in-depth and soulful interaction, as it’s impractical and not appropriate for a lot of interactions. However, there is still a need to “understand” that which is being communicated.
Here are two fundamental principles for listening and connecting.
Genuinely Listen. Try to appreciate and understand what your colleagues truly mean when they communicate with you. Do I really understand what they are saying? Have I already decided my response while they are still communicating their idea/thoughts? Have I already made a decision before fully understanding that which they’re communicating? Am I letting my ego get in the way of listening effectively and then making the best decision for a response? Do I know the underlying reasons or motives for what they are stating? Could I accurately rephrase in my own words that which they’ve said to me.
Respect Their Humanness. Even when we may not care for the topic, or point of view, presented by a colleague it’s still important to respectively listen, acknowledging their humanness. We should let them say what they believe they have to say; as it’s important to them. And should we have a differing perspective it should be respectfully stated in a way that addresses the relevant issue, subject or facts, but does not impugn the person that spoke it; and which may unnecessarily create a defensiveness that gets in the way of effective two-way communication.
Genuine listening requires continual effort. It truly does not come easily.
Michael VanBruaene was a KPMG Director and blogs at “Michael VanBruaene – Pragmatic Approaches To Move You and Your Organization Forward”. Go to his website for the services he delivers and additional articles and improvement tools. www.AdvancingYourOrganization.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org