I hereby confess that I am not a great listener. This has nothing to do with my slight hearing loss resulting from years on radio with headphones up all the way, nor my tenure back in the day as DJ at the Bananas disco at the Erie, PA Ramada Inn in a booth next to massive speakers.
No, my problem is a failure to listen closely to everything being said to me. I am working on it, but have yet to achieve complete satisfaction.
This week I attended a baseball game with my cousin. We chatted about numerous topics. There was one particular thing he mentioned about which I never got the whole story—because I had to get in my opinion about what he had mentioned.
At a networking event this week, there was useful input coming to me from a number of people I was visiting with. But, in at least two cases, I derailed their train of thought by offering my own take on the issue being discussed.
I remember talk show host Tom Snyder who was a talented interviewer. But he had a tendency to butt in on interesting responses to his questions. He would then share his own experiences or beliefs about the topic. The guest often did not get a chance to finish his thought.
Here are some reasons why I need to work on being a better listener:
- I can learn more by listening to others than by listening to myself.
- Sometimes my responses may be construed as my saying, “Hey, I can top that!” (Even when that’s certainly not my intention.)
- Sometimes when I talk too much, I say things that are better left unsaid.
- I may miss out on hidden cues within the other person’s comments.
- People appreciate someone who actually pays attention to what they are saying.
- If I listen more carefully, I won’t have to ask people to repeat things.
- When I am listening, I learn more about the needs and wants of others (including prospects).
How about you? Can you be a better listener?
(This article was first posted in May 2012.)