Here in and around Atlanta, leaders do a lot of this special activity all the time. They know it is critical and they know it is a growing skill. Without it they cannot lead and they indeed must take it very seriously. The skill is active listening.
As we all know, active listening in business does not necessarily mean hearing all the issues of the day within the organization, nor does it mean listening to problems, concerns, and situations. Active listening means communicating and it means relationship-building. Deep within the wonderfully written business bible, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is the core fact that every human interaction is driven by quality listening and mutual discussions; these in turn instigate commonality and conversation. The only way anything gets done is when there is listening going on.
Within every organization, during the periods of problem solving and decision making activity that create quality products and service, there is an array of change and improvement that get processes moving in positive directions.
Change never happens without listening. Contrary to popular myth, listening is never a passage action. Hearing is the passive sense. Listening is proactive and engaging. It is interesting to note that organizations can change very quickly based on listening and acting. Often the biggest changes happen within the listener. The more the meaning of the message is retained the better the reaction for change.
In classic conversation, it is sender, message, and receiver; each is equal is the process. But listening must create adjustments by the sender which can change the message. In fact, the quality of listening can be considered the adjuster for both the sender and the message.
Just like in a football game, audibles at the line of scrimmage can quickly change the direction of the play; messages can change based on the listening. It is important to never forget that communication is never all verbal. The nonverbal cues, activated by the listener, can adjust things like body movements, hand gestures, and facial expressions. Together, the collective conversation conveys the total message.
Using listening as an informational tool makes organizations grow. It indeed wins friends and influences people.
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