Listening: Showing Respect

What is the best way to show respect to others? It is to listen to them. Have you ever had a conversation with somebody who glances up at you and then tries to talk with you while they are typing or doing other tasks. It is instantly annoying and conveys that they really don’t care about you. I have this happen to me at times and I realize that the person doing it doesn’t realize how bad it comes off.

As a computer person I often find myself immersed deep in the data, far from conscious reality. When somebody interrupts this deep thought my first inclination is to feign interest, solve the issue and get back to my deep thought as quickly as possible. While this might get me back to work quickly, I’ve just alienated myself to someone else. I’ve just told them “they aren’t important”. I must admit that I struggle with this all the time. I have to constantly remind myself that my actions while listening do have consequences.

With our busy overburdened world, how do we get things done and maintain positive relationships at the same time? Here are some techniques that I have found that have been helpful.

1. Give the speaker your undivided attention when conversing with them. This builds respect and shows that you care. It usually only takes a minute to find out what somebody is saying. Make eye contact and really listen to them.

2. If you are really busy, write down what the speaker wants and promise to get back to them. Using the two minute rule from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” if their needs can be handled in less than two minutes, do it right then. If you do need to reschedule make sure the appointment is actually put into your trusted system

3. If the message conveyed by the speaker is vague and unclear, ask questions, dig a little deeper. So many times people are afraid to say what is really on their minds. This ends up in shallow conversations that really aren’t conversations at all. Dig a little deeper than “how ya doing”.

4. Setup your office or cubicle so that you don’t automatically make eye contact with people walking by. This is a big problem in some offices. It is just human nature to say something to someone when eye contact is made. Rearranging your office can save hours of time spent in shallow conversations with passersby.

5. To build relationships with others, be impressed and interested, not impressive and interesting. Instead of trying to impress people with your wit, humor and knowledge put your focus on the other person. Be truly interested in what they have to say. Put the focus on them.

6. Address people by name. People love to hear their names. Make sure when you meet someone the first time that you actually hear their name. Once you hear their name, make sure to commit it to memory right then.There are many memory techniques that can help with this, including word substitution and name visualization. (We’ll have a separate post later in the week on memory techniques)

I am on a journey to become a better listener. it is so easy in our busy days to dismiss people and not hear them at all. I want to change this in my life.

As Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two weeks by being a good listener than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.”

My ears are open… comments??