Anyone who’s ever met me knows I’m a talker. I can prattle on about a wide variety of subjects, which is probably evident from my blog.
One of the things I’m cultivating is good listening skills. I’m getting more comfortable with silences as people gather their own thoughts. It’s not easy, but I’m working on it.
When it comes to business, listening is essential. I had the opportunity yesterday to send a few hours with a new customer. I put my listening skills into practice. She asked many, many questions. On more than one occasion I asked a clarifying question, then waited for her reply—listening carefully.
What I’m discovering about listening is that it allows me to discover what the other person really wants to know. “Is it dishwasher-safe,” could be either “Is it easy to clean,” or “Would I have to divorce my husband if he accidentally loaded it into the dishwasher?” “Is that heavy,” could be either “Do you need a hand,” or “Would I have to lug a bunch of stuff around if I joined your team?”
For a talker like me learning to actively listen is like learning a foreign language. Like anything new, though, it’s kind of exciting. If you’re not a very good listener, I encourage you to make a concerted effort to learn. If you’re a pretty good listener, I encourage you to sharpen your skills. If you’re a great listener, feel free to share some of your best advice with me. After all, I’m just learning.