As a general rule everyone can be a good listener. Good listening is not an instinctive process, rather it is a developed skill that requires great effort.
It is funny, observations of workplaces struggling with communication challenges. The first thing they often do is attempt to have more communication.
Meetings increase in size and number of occurrences. Email lists grow, making sure everyone is copied. Time spent communicating increases but does the effectiveness?
We use the words hearing and listening synonymously. Yet, they really are not the same thing.
Assuming no disabilities, we hear sounds, noises, and people. Hearing is an instinctual process. Good listening is a developed skill.
Many people are lazy listeners. It is probably safe to say that most people are lazy listeners. We listen only to what we want, things that require little effort, or things we find enjoyable.
Everything else, it gets tuned out.
In the workplace, many people have already decided it is not worth the effort. Someone is complaining, someone else is blaming, and the boss, well, he or she is just micromanaging. Tuned out.
Great listening comes from high energy people. It is sparked by interest, sometimes fear, and always takes effort.
Effort to sort the information, qualify it appropriately, comprehend, remove bias, stereotyping, and other filters. When our emotions get activated it can enhance our listening or have us applying filters that mean we absorb the communication different from its intention.
It is not impossible to be a great communicator. It is not impossible to be a great listener.
Are you committed enough to put in the effort? Do you care enough?
More communication isn’t always the answer. In fact, it often makes things worse.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.