Will You Listen?

By Morag Barrett on August 4, 2013

Posted by Morag Barrett | August 4, 2013Will You Listen?How many minutes in a day do you spend:SleepingWorking independentlyIn unproductive transportation between meetings or destinationsSolving CrisesInstructing others in tactical task lists, and/or strategic imperativesManaging stakeholders with updates on progress or risksLISTENING to what others have to sayIf you are like me, even when I pretend I am listening, I’m really multi-tasking: diving, thinking about my own response, my rejoinder, my priorities, planning dinner, obsessing on an earlier conversation that didn’t go as planned, wondering if that brownie I left in the refrigerator is still there…So about a week ago, I made it my goal to spend an entire day making listening my priority.  I failed.  In fact, I failed every day over the course of the next 4 days, and here I am writing a blog on the importance of listening.So, here’s what I’ve learned: Listening is HARD, especially for those of us who are used to being in the driver’s seat.  Listening is hard because I realize that I think I generally know the right answer and I’m impatient to get moving on that… but I’ve really been missing a lot.  I’m the first to say that I love learning, but I tend to do it on my own insistence and volition.  But when I stop and ask for someone else’s opinion on solving a problem or reaching a goal, even small easy ones, I learn something new all the time, and I get their buy-in on helping me achieve my goal.Instead of telling my friend how I wanted the asparagus cut, I asked her what she suggested.  Really simple, right?  Well, I learned that you can eliminate all the woody bits in the asparagus by “snapping” the bottoms of vs. cutting them to an arbitrary length.  Eureka! In the last week I’ve also learned about three new business opportunities, I learned about a friend who was looking for just the right job, which happened to match one of the aforementioned opportunities perfectly. I learned a shortcut between two offices which I frequently visit, and I learned that a friend was in need but had been afraid to ask me for help “since I’m always so busy.” Today, when I stopped shouting at my 4-year old to hurry up and get dressed for school, and asked him instead what he thought was important to do before going to school, he asked me for a hug.   I could have missed that moment in my rush!  We both smiled and relaxed… and you know what?  Even though it meant he was wearing mis-matched socks, we still made it to school on time.I’m a terrible listener, but I pride myself on my ability to solve problems and meet important goals.  Go figure: when I listen?  I solve more important problems, and achieve the greatest goals in life- stronger relationships with the people I most value. -Erin Lewis is an entrepreneurial executive and a contributing writer for Skye Team.  All opinions are her own and are not necessarily the view of Skye Team or the partners of Skye Team.Related Articles Share1
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