How important is listening in business? As shown below - Super Critical. When I started my CPMR course, the very first class in CPMR Course 101 was "Listening Skills" led by Dr. Frank DiSilvestro. The information I'm sharing with you is from this class.
An article from "Training Today", June 1978 discusses a study done to learn what Certified Administrative Managers (CAMS) felt were the activities that promise the most bang for the buck in business. The study came up with a list of 20 Critical Managerial Competencies. The top ratings in importance were deemed "Super Critical". The article continues, "And please note that of those four top-rated skills, the numero unoskill was a specific communicating-with-people skill. Active Listening, which includes such communication sophistication as hearing how the speaker "feels" and showing him that you care and consider him important." I believe this is empathy, another super critical communication skill.
Dr. DiSilvestro passed along some interesting statistics:
- 80% - the amount of information lost (forgotten) when it is passed on
- 50% - the amount of information forgotten right after we hear it
- 75% - the amount of information forgotten after 6 - 8 hours has passed
- Listening - intend to listen
- Hearing - concentrate
- Understanding - control your emotions
- Evaluating - check for understanding
- Acting - use memory aids
- Listening - Pay attention; when you begin a conversation - whether in person or via other media - go into it with the idea that you are going to listen and hear what that person is saying. That means no checking e-mails, text messages, IMs, etc. The person you are having a conversation with deserves your undivided attention. Two signals that someone is not listening - they keep interrupting you and there is a lack of eye contact.
- Hearing - Focus; again, no multi-tasking and employ empathy when listening to what is being said. A person speaks about 150 -200 words per minute. A person listens 3 - 4 times faster; use the extra time to your advantage. Summarize and paraphrase the main needs of the speaker; anticipate, but don't interrupt or finish their sentences; look for cues that they are telling you the truth.
- Understanding - Stay neutral; regardless of your personal bias, keep your emotions in check and show the other person you are trying to see their point of view.
- Evaluating - Be accurate; make sure you understand their point of view through clarification. As previously stated, paraphrase or summarize their statements and ask for clarification if necessary.
- Acting - Use all available tools; take notes, record (with permission) conversations, take pictures (again, with permission). It's been proven that when a sales person takes notes during a sales call, the person being called on feels important. So, don't hesitate to write something down.
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