Tag Archives: listening

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facts matter

Have You Wondered if the Facts Matter?

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Nearly every moment of every day is a chance to tell a story. The story of the big fish, the trophy you won, or the co-worker who consistently turns out bad work. Do the facts matter or is the drama more valuable?

Workplace Stories

Stories often get embellished. Worse yet, they grow in drama bit-by-bit nearly each time they are told. The basis of the story may be founded in evidence and truth, but the way it is told magnifies the sweet spots.

Around the workplace people often find themselves living for the drama or wishing it didn’t exist. The culture certainly plays a role. When we inquire and investigate it is a chance for someone to tell their story.

Culture often decides what we will spend more time to investigate, understand and adopt, or what it will choose to ignore. The investigative process itself may be a cultural attribute. If the focus on work to be completed feels more important, less opportunity exists for stories.

Facts Matter

The story often told, and the story we hear, is a story riddled with opinions. The emphasis becomes about the wrong doing, the unfair act, and the less than truthful analysis of others.

Opinions are what we often share.

She never shows up on time and doesn’t care

He never does his part and is highly overpaid.

Opinions embellish the story. They shift the facts ever so slightly, or in some cases alter the truth in the message.

Listening requires energy. Hearing the message is not the same as listening to the message. We hear a voice talking, but listening takes things to higher level.

Down on energy from the work at hand we only listen when there is great interest. If we aren’t careful, we’ll process opinions as facts.

Now you are reminded, facts matter.

-DEG

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.


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Intentional listening

Why Intentional Listening is Different

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Listening is not instinctive. Hearing on the other hand happens without effort. We hear sounds, voices, and music. Intentional listening is probably not as easy as you think. It requires something more than just showing up.

Things People Do

Many workplace professionals feel stressed. They grow weary and tired of the everyday grind. Work isn’t always easy, but when we understand more about how to help ourselves things can (and do) get better.

Communication is a funny thing. People and teams often believe that when miscommunication occurs it means that it is time for more communication.

What do people do?

Often, they start with providing more communication. More meetings, more phone calls, and more email. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t improve the problem, it adds to it. Effective communication makes more sense.

Intentional listening is effective. What are your listening habits?

Intentional Listening

Why is listening such a valued part of communication? We can start with the idea that it is the other side of speaking. Consider that theoretically, there is only one speaker at a time, while the number of people listening can be quite expansive. A positive ratio.

At least two important barriers exist for listening. One is, do we have the proper skill? The other is, are we willing to put in the effort?

Skill is important. Carefully decoding and interpreting messages faces numerous challenges. As people, we struggle with bias, stereotypes, filters, and so much more. The more we understand barriers the better we can become.

Effort is often where the magic happens. Although there isn’t really anything magical about it, raw effort and intention may be the key. It requires energy. The question is are you willing to put in the effort?

Hanging out at the meeting may feel like you are doing your part. Listening and contributing must be intentional.

-DEG

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.


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data listening

Data Listening, Do You Have This Skill?

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Data is out there, it is everywhere. We have lots and lots of data but what does it all mean? What about the opinions from friends, coworkers, or clients? Are you effective at data listening?

When we hear the word data we often think about numbers. We think about the financial statement, the metric for production efficiency, or the results from a scientific study. Sure, that is data, but so is the information that surrounds us.

Data Trouble Spots

Several trouble spots with data often plague organizational team members. It may be the CEO, or it may be the front-line team lead. It happens in stand-alone decisions or in the group or committee. Are you listening to the data? Should you?

Here are a few trouble spots:

  • Biased listening
  • Inappropriate frame
  • Too much data
  • Too little data
  • Opinions not facts

Often the more experienced we believe we are, the less effective we are at data listening. As leaders grow and elevate their status they may also start to listen with less efficiency and more bias.

Self-perception or deception is often problematic. Leaders make choices based on gut feel, or what seems to be the most mainstream point of view. Worse, they sometimes do it for future positioning or self-interest.

Data Listening

Some listening deficiencies are easily improved. Others are harder to identify or address.

Framing is a significant problem. Simply put, people don’t know what they don’t know. Every decision we make is based on our frame.

While the origins are obscure, the idiom, “Think outside the box,” is often attributed to John Adair who studied critical thinking in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Watch out for the frame you place around your decisions.

Information and data are everywhere, it is the art of exceptional listening that makes a difference for what happens next. Thinking alike is often just as problematic as it is good.

Sometimes the best way to see the data is with a different set of eyes.

-DEG

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.


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constructive contributions

Constructive Contributions Are Valuable In The Workplace

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Conditioning plays a role in much of what we do. As children or young adults many have learned to keep quiet, to not say anything, and just sit back and observe. However, it is constructive contributions that will have an impact on your future.

Speak Up, Listen, Contribute

Many people are afraid to speak up. It may be from ridicule, from the risk of being wrong, or because past experience has taught us it is safer without comment.

There is value in listening more, and many people should practice better listening, but what things are going unsaid?

How many times have you sat in the meeting with a thought on your mind but you failed to share it? How many times could the lost sale, lost client, or lousy performance have been prevented?

Measuring Risk

The value of constructive contributions is very high but like many high value items it is often very rare.

People often measure risk in the wrong way. What is riskier, speaking up, or watching the team go down the wrong path?

It may be alarming the number of times that things go unsaid. Of course, sometimes inaction may be the right action. How do you know what to do?

Constructive Contributions

When you paraphrase, you often increase understanding and limit miscommunication. What is the risk or the harm? Little or none.

When you build on others ideas for the benefit of the decision, there is little effort wasted and the quality of the decision improves. You also invite future contributions.

When you take a chance, leap, and risk with thoughtful, constructive contributions, you may change the outcome. You may invent something new, better, or appropriately encourage redesign.

The best job security, the highest probability for a promotion, and the insurance of a future for your organization may exist through constructive contributions.

While there may be some risk, the value is great.

Ante up.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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service escalation

Service Escalation and Why Your Customers Ask For It

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“Follow the chain of command.” That is what we are often taught. Many workplace professionals identify this as a sign of respect, integrity, and loyalty. Are your customers asking for service escalation?

It happens the moment a customer asks to speak with the manager. Some customers may act on impulse. They have learned from experience that you need to jump to a higher level to get results.

Starts Internally

The same is true internally. When the operations group feels that the sales group over-committed. When the sales group feels that operations aren’t fulfilling efficiently. Employee teams either solve the problems or escalate them.

In most cases there is a force at work here. The force is trying to stop the escalation. The concept is simple. When you stop the problem from escalating you are servicing the customer more efficiently.

No fingers are pointed. Time and effort are minimized. Everyone is happy. At least that is the concept.

It is a tug-of-war with the customer. For the customer it may send the message that their service problem is not important. The customer demands escalation, the leadership wants to train the staff not to escalate.

Training the staff to avoid escalation has value to the customer, but only when it is proven. Proof occurs when the staff is appropriately empowered (and trained) to solve problems.

Service Escalation

In the smallest organization, the President is the front line. Things typically work out. In every organization larger than the smallest, different challenges develop.

Organizational leaders should understand the challenges faced by the customer. A good starting point is listening carefully to those they have empowered on the front line.

The culture of service internally is what the external customer always feels.

Escalation occurs when the customer feels it is required.

Listen for the requirements. It is a story you can’t afford to miss.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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redundancy impact

Redundancy Impact, Saying It Twice As Much

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Have you heard it all before? Are you suffering from redundancy impact? Does hearing it more than once have a deeper impact or is it weakening your communication?

It seems commonplace today. We get a marketing promotion email and we expect more to follow. We listen intently in the meeting and we keep hearing the same message. Is this a failure or exactly what we need?

Communication Repeats

Our business communications are cluttered with repeats. The habits we form are based largely on browse and scan. We believe we filter more effectively by just taking in tiny bits of information and labeling it as interesting, understood, and categorized. Otherwise, it is not heard.

Some people may be in love with the verbiage. It gives them confidence and satisfaction in repeating it over and over again. It does seem that redundancy has some form of impact, but what is it?

One problem area of redundancy is that many people, those who heard you the first time start to tune it out. It is Charlie Brown’s teacher, a mumble most won’t understand. More importantly, they decide they don’t care to understand.

Redundancy Impact

What is most important today probably needs to be said more than once. People expect it. People only half listen the first time or two, because they are too busy being distracted by something else. Chances are good things aren’t registering on the first pass.

All the clutter that we face is not necessarily the fault of the speaker, or of the listener, but a dynamic that has evolved in World full of constant noise.

Among all the noise, we may have to wonder what we are missing. Is our filter too fine or too loose?

Redundancy impact may feel costly, but it is likely much less expensive when compared with the price of not being heard at all.

There are some things that are worth saying more than once, and certainly those that are valuable enough to hear again.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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learning moments

Learning Moments From The People Who Get It

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Telling someone isn’t the way the most meaningful learning occurs. Knowledge transfer and retention are much more impactful in learning moments, which are much different from telling moments.

Frustrated workplace leaders discuss it with me often. They insist that they have instructed employees dozens of times, but still they do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Certainly, there may be many reasons for this, but one reason is that telling an employee may be different than helping them learn.

Learning Stories

People love stories. Some of the best storytellers are in fact great teachers. Stories can ignite learning moments when listeners connect with it emotionally.

In other cases, people are stuck in their habits. They hear the story but they really aren’t listening to learn, they are only listening to hear. There is a difference in the outcomes.

What happens when you believe you know the answer? Do you suggest a different path for those involved, but still they make the wrong choices? Logic often suggests that we must tell them again.

Whether we like to admit it or not, much of the power in learning comes with an emotional connection. When people are open to change or they desire change, it can occur easily. Sometimes we have to create learning moments, that moment when someone else becomes captivated enough to be inspired for change.

Evaluating Answers

Telling someone the answer is not nearly as powerful as when the person can evaluate why it is the best answer. Sure, we can teach to the test. When those being tested care enough to learn the answer, they can store it in their memory.

Many can argue, this is learning, but learning the correct answer is not always the same as understanding it.

This is precisely why advertising is designed to connect with your emotions. In the 1950’s or early 1960’s smoking was considered cool, and advertisers helped create that image. In the 1980’s we had the fried egg commercial that advised against drug use.

Today training programs or advertising campaigns may include gory safety videos, car accident scenes demonstrating outcomes of driving while distracted, or even active shooter programs that ignite fear in an attempt to make a difference for saving lives.

Learning Moments

Sometimes the best way you can help someone learn is by helping him or her discover the answer, not by telling them.

Good advice can make a difference, but often, learning moments don’t come from the mere act of advice.

Advice connected with personal experience is often much more valuable. Help someone figure it out and you’ll create a learning moment that sticks.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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stop listening

When To Stop Listening and Other Failures

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Listening is one of the most important parts of communication. It is also the most taken for granted. Do you know when to stop listening?

A few years ago, I was facilitating a session with a group of senior managers and executives about communication. During a subgroup breakout portion, I overheard the CEO say, “It is impossible for us to fail.”

It grabbed my attention and I listened more carefully. At first, I thought perhaps he was mocking a comment from someone else, soon I realized he was completely serious. It told me a lot. A lot about his Company and it provided the only answer I needed about why we were there in the first place.

Generations of Ownership

This business is in its second or third generation of family ownership. In terms of workforce generations this CEO is a traditional. It includes a disruptive workforce resisting a turnover to the next in line in the family tree.

I have often wondered about the long-term positioning for their future.

“Impossible to fail” can probably be translated to, “We have stopped listening.”

A service and technology driven economy have cause many shifts in many sectors. This business was an exception. An exception because there hasn’t been a shift. There hasn’t been a shift for decades. Sure, they’ve installed some technology, but only for metrics and measurements.

Don’t get me wrong, metrics and measurements are critical, but the culture of the organization is still in the 1970’s or 1980’s at best. Who wants to work there? It is an easy answer, very few. Pay scales also tend to match the decade correlation of culture, which makes it even more difficult.

Stop Listening

My presence with this team was really a recognized effort to appease and silence the management team critics. The C-Suite team was hearing the outcry of need, but change was really about everyone else. They weren’t listening.

My impression is that the Company is not doing any better today.

When should you stop listening?

The answer is easy, “Never.”

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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listening improves customer service

How Listening Improves Customer Service

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Many organizations who actually take the time to self-reflect suggest that one area they could improve is in their communication. Listening is one of the most fundamental and easily improved skills. Have you considered how listening improves customer service?

As a business consultant and organization development professional, I hear it all the time. I hear it mostly because I am listening, listening carefully and watch the non-verbal cues. Many businesses believe they are too good to change.

Their focus is either on the CEO’s area of expertise, often a technical skill, or on getting more sales. Neither of these are a problem, until; their focus becomes their blind spot.

Blind Spots

I’ve heard CEO’s of small businesses ($15k – $65k annual revenue) repeatedly suggest that they are too big to fail. Some of them flat out say it. Others are saying it when you listen through the words.

If you’re following along closely, you might wonder why I’m even in the room? Think about that for a moment. Honestly, I’m typically there because someone on the team has suggested to bring me in and the top brass tolerates it because they hope it will silence the team.

Now, I’m not bashing my clients, not at all. I’m honestly trying to help. However, too big to fail sometimes equates to too big to listen. This is most likely why the second string in the C Suite has recommended we work together. The first string tolerates it, again hoping to calm the restless.

Besides, they would never want to be accused of not supporting the team. The team needs this, but perhaps they do not, at least that may be the thought.

Customer Service Connection

The customer service connection should be starting to become clear. We’re in a service oriented economy. That isn’t really new, it has been shifting for decades, and many believe that it is accelerating.

In a service economy, the most valuable core principles should be closely aligned with [customer] service. This is important internally and externally. It is important for sales, brand promise, and understanding lifetime value.

Where are most organizations focused? They are focused on the external, closing the sale, increasing profit, and forging new relationships. Certainly, of course they are, as they should be. However, their focus on external push often eliminates listening to the service requirements.

Listening Improves Customer Service

How does this happen? Too big to fail, equates to too big to listen, which makes their actions and behaviors consistent with too big to care.

Caring is one of the most violated principles in a service economy. They may care, but sometimes they care incorrectly. Caring about closing the sale is sometimes not the same as caring enough to listen.

Listening, that is where it all starts. Not hearing, but listening.

In case you’re wondering, there is a difference.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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being heard appreciative strategies

Being Heard : 15 Ways to Get Better Listeners

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It seems that there is always a lot of talk. The question might be, “Are you being heard?”

In my business as a consultant, professional speaker, and corporate trainer there is always an interest in listening. There are books, videos, and seminars that reach out to people about mastering the skills of exceptional listening.

Workplace Concepts

It seems that the responsibility for information intake is in the hands of the listener, not the person speaking. If you’re really hoping to be heard you might be thankful for those who have great listening skills.

In the workplace the concept often is: respect me because I am talking, listen better because I’m providing value. The idea of speaking to one, or hundreds might appear to be about push, but what if it was about pull?

What if it is more about people being interested, drawn in, and compelled to hear what you have to say? How do you create that environment? What makes people want to listen?

There was a series of popular television commercials in the 1970’s and 1980’s whose tagline is well known to many of the baby boomer and gen X population. The tagline is, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

E.F. Hutton was known by many as one of the most respected financial firms in the United States. Its commercials often featured investors in conversation at crowded places and when E.F. Hutton was mentioned everyone stopped to listen.

Being Heard

Is being heard about respect? Many people will tell you that respect is earned.

If you want to be heard what you might want to push for is earning more respect. Here are fifteen ways to do it:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Listen first
  3. Stop blaming
  4. Acknowledge good work
  5. Compliment others
  6. Build people up
  7. Appreciate honest efforts
  8. Gossip less
  9. Worry about your attire, not others
  10. Don’t bully
  11. Tell the truth
  12. Be helpful
  13. Don’t judge
  14. Value people
  15. Be kind

The next time you talk, will anyone be listening?

Perhaps the best way to capture listeners is with respect.

Be heard.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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