Hello! Is This Thing On? Anybody Listening?

I’ve written about listening before and confessed that I have not always been a great listener. (Click HERE for earlier post.)

If you are a person who has historically transmitted content to a wide audience, whether over the air, in print or online, you may be more concerned about what you are sending out than what you are taking in.

A couple of recent events reminded me of the importance of listening. A friend told me about one of his co-workers who always seems to be interested in my friend’s life because of all the questions he asks. But, my friend said, the co-worker never seems to care about the answers. Instead he rushes into his next question.

I spent time recently with a family member whose behavior is similar. He asks me a question but before I can finish my answer, he counters with his own comment. (Which indicates he, like my friend’s co-worker, is not really listening.)

A presentation last week by an Ameren digital manager about his organization’s social media efforts following a 2013 storm and revealed how his team responded to user comments on Facebook. By listening to input from customers, they were able to post content using the terms customers used. They also learned that customers presumed crews were not working to restore service because they did not see them on their own streets.

A recent lunch visit with a friend gave a vivid illustration of listening versus yakking. About 20 minutes after our food was served, one of us had a nearly clean plate and one of us had only eaten about a third of the food on his plate. I won’t reveal who was doing most of the listening (clean plate) or who was doing most of the talking (food barely touched), but this physical evidence was a good reminder that we learn more by listening than by talking.

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