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November 7, 2011

Listening devices

When I teach Listening in my seminars and workshops, I always like to help introduce the topic by asking the room:  Is it possible to hear without listening?  Participants always say yes immediately…and, in doing so, their faces seem to instantly recall times they have performed or witnessed very poor listening…despite perfect hearing!  Agreed on that, I then ask:  Is it possible to listen without hearing?  Suddenly there is pause/hesitation in their faces, differences in their responses and in contemplating an answer to this question…and the real “Listening” discussion begins!

We know from experience that there is a major difference between “hearing” and “listening”…not just because it is possible to do either without doing the other…and not just because one process is passive while the other is active. We know because we experience on a daily basis all the pain of miscommunication that results from poor listening…despite perfect hearing.

Poor listening can lead to many problems in the workplace, including:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Missed deadlines
  • Poor morale among coworkers
  • Assignments completed incorrectly
  • Uniformed decision-making and problem solving
  • Even workplace violence, harassment, accidents/injuries or even death can result from failure to listen effectively.

The true/total costs of poor listening in the workplace are beyond calculation.  Meanwhile, just about every workplace victory you can think of will include examples of excellent listening.  I believe that success in life and business is ALL about Listening! But how many of us actively work to improve our listening?

You hope the most important people in your professional life are great listeners (the boss, the client, the vendor, the sub-ordinate, peer or assistant), and you CERTAINLY want the very best listening skills for you children, parents, spouses, friends, teammates/partners, employees, etc.  But YOUR listening is just fine, right?  Well, if you have the slightest notion that YOUR listening can improve, over the next two day, I will discuss the six steps to Listening for Success!!!


So, back to our original question:  Can we “listen” without hearing?  My answer is absolutely YES!  Consider these examples:

  • The co-worker that asks where you feel like going for lunch today…”do you feel like Italian?  A Burger?  Chinese?  Something lite like a good salad?” or…
  • The cell phone call that fights through weak signal just before the call is dropped…”are you there?  Can you hear me?  Can you HEAR ME?  Hello?  I can hear YOU, can you hear ME?” or one of my favorites:
  • Being woken up in the middle of the night by a spouse who just “heard something” and must make sure that you heard it also…”honey, did you hear that?”  “What?” “I HEARD something, did you hear it?” “No” “Well, listen…THERE, did you hear THAT?” “No, what?” “THAT!” “WHAT?!?”

Step One to improve your listening is to separate and isolate “hearing” from the listening process as a whole.  We all know the difference between hearing and listening, right?  Consider the beauty of the platitude you may have heard regarding why God gave us one mouth and two ears…because we should do twice as much listening as we do talking.  No argument there.  The problem with this cliché, however, is that it creates a mental association for us that we “listen with our ears” when what we really do with them is “hear.”

What are you doing to improve your listening skills?

Wolf Management offers customized workshops, seminars, training’s and private coaching that will improve your listening and help you improve the listening of others on your team, staff, jury, committee, or household.  Click here to explore a customized Listening Program for you!


From → Communication

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