There’s More to Listening Than Hearing 1

“In the industrial age, the CEO sat on the top of the hierarchy and didn’t have to listen to anybody … In the information age; you have to listen to the ideas of people regardless of where they are in the organization.” – John Sculley. Active Listening? What images conjure up in your mind’s eye when you hear that? Who do you think is the most important person in the conversation – the sender or the receiver? Active listening (receiving) is as important to communication as effective speaking (sending). If the receiver doesn’t receive the message the way it was intended then whatever was said means absolutely squat.

Active listening is described as a process in which the listener interacts with the speaker. Effective communication takes two. To really listen to what is being said requires mental and verbal paraphrasing and attention to non-verbal cues like tones, gestures, and facial expressions. (We communicate 93% of the time non-verbally – 38% by the tone of our voice and 55% by body language alone.) The next time you have an opportunity to listen try being actively involved in the exchange by developing/demonstrating these five skills to become a more active listener.

1. Restating and Summarizing: You should be able to restate what the speaker said and or summarize the discussion. The speaker should hear their own words being played back to them. (So what you are saying is …)

2. Paraphrasing: You are paraphrasing what the speaker said by repeating it as accurately as you can – using your own words. If you met someone in the hallway after the discussion could you tell that person what the discussion was about?

3. Non-Words: Listeners can show the speaker that they are listening by verbally and non-verbally acknowledging the speaker. (The Fraser Crane – Hello – I’m listening) Use non-words like “ah-ha – yeah – hmmmmmm – oh. Smile, nod and make eye contact.

4. Supporting Statements: Another way to verbally acknowledge a speaker is to use supporting statements. Examples include “Go on; tell me more, and then what happened?, OMG you’re kidding?

5. Non-Verbal Messages: Remember – We communicate 55% of the time non-verbally. Your body language is speaking volumes and you haven’t said a word. Your non verbal messages must be the same as your verbal messages so that the speaker feels that you are being sincere. People believe the non-verbal messages you send to be more accurate. Your verbal responses should include non-verbal responses such as: body angle and stance, facial expressions, arms, hands, legs and feet. Your body language should appear open and receptive. Put your hands down at your sides not across your chest. Rolling your eyes, yawning, looking around the room, looking down at your watch or tapping on the floor with your toe should be avoided at all costs.

We aren’t born good listeners but we can learn how. Try adding these five skills to your active listening toolbox. You’ll find out everything you need to know about the people you work with and interact with by actively listening. 🙂 – Cheers,

Increase Your Team’s Motivation Five-Fold – Scott Keller 2

“Dolphins do it, humpback whales do it, even lions, orcas and wolves do it, and of course humans try to do it”. So says Phil Baguley author of “Teams and Team-Working”. Why teams? Do we really accomplish more? Reduce our costs? Or is it just wishful thinking? Teams and work teams make for a great sound bite – but in the real world – your world – do they produce the kinds of results that you want? Or do they create more problems than they’re worth?

I’ll try not to be too cynical here – but you can’t throw people together – call them a team – and have them perform without teaching them what it means to be part of a team – and how to be a good team player. (It’s a learned behaviour) Making teams work is a challenging and difficult process. Nonetheless, you can increase the likelihood that your team will succeed in accomplishing individual and team goals by carefully managing the setting of team goals and priorities, how work team members are selected, trained and compensated. Team goals may vary depending on the role that teams play in your organization. Problem solving teams, self-managed teams, cross functional teams, virtual teams and work teams. Teams can be brought together, based on each team member’s area of expertise, to work on a specific project and once that project is completed the team is disbanded. (Project Managers work in this type of environment and it takes a special set of skills to manage those teams)

“Coming together is a beginning – Keeping together is progress – Working together is success” – Henry Ford. Managers need to understand that they need their people a great deal more than their people need them. You and I both know that there are a number of ways to accomplish a given task. The more that you allow other team members to be involved in the process, the more likely it is – that they’ll be interested in the results. Do you want to know the secret to increasing your team’s motivation five-fold? Reading Scott Keller’s article is a great place to start. Enjoy the read 🙂

Increase Your Team's Motivation Five-Fold – Scott Keller – Harvard Business Review.

Silent Conversations. Are Your Body and Mouth on the Same Page? – Rita Rocker 2

You are speaking volumes and you haven’t said a word yet. On a percentage basis how much do you think we communicate by the actual words we say? Based on the research of Dr. Ralph Nichols – we communicate just 7% of the time by the actual words we say. I want you to think about that for a moment. You communicate just 7% of the time by the actual words you say. You communicate 93% of the time – non verbally. (38% by the tone of your voice and 55% of the time by body language alone) And most adults believe the non-verbal as more accurate – especially women who are far more intuitive to non-verbal communication cues than men. With men it’s usually black or white. With women, it’s more in that grey zone. Women tend to read between the lines and communicate on an emotional level. Your actions and what you are saying must be congruent to be believed. Pay attention to a person’s body language when communicating so you can pick up on subtle nuances and depict what’s really on their mind. – Great article by Rita Rocker – Enjoy the read 🙂

Silent Conversations. Are Your Body and Mouth on the Same Page? | Work + Money – Yahoo! Shine.

Powerful Communication Strategies – Bridging The Generation & Gender Gap 2

“One of the indispensable functions of informal organizations – is that of communication” – Chester Barnard. Think of a job that you could do in your life time that didn’t involve communicating with others? Ken Blanchard is his book, The One Minute Manager – said that communication is the breakfast of champions. I can’t think of a more valuable skill for managers to have than the ability to communicate effectively up, down and across the organization. If you can’t communicate you can’t manage – period!

Research conducted by Dr. Ralph Nichols would suggest that humans aren’t built to be good communicators – but we are born with the ability to learn how. The power of the spoken and unspoken word can’t be overlooked. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be the catalyst for action or in-action. You can choose to build people up or tear them down simply by the tone of your voice and the non-verbal massages your body language sends. In Barrack Obama’s case his ability to communicate effectively inspired a Nation – and changed our World forever.

Take a moment and think about what it would mean to you if you could improve your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with the people you work with and come in contact with. Don’t put your career at risk. Invest in yourself – Learn how to build collaborative teams, develop relationships, resolve conflict and deal with difficult people. Go ahead – you’re worth it. “Powerful Communication Strategies – Bridging The Generation & Gender Gap” – June 16 – Ottawa.

Powerful Communication Strategies – Bridging The Generation & Gender Gap.