Are You Listening?
listen understand hearWhile attending a manager’s meeting, I was amazed, appalled, and disgusted to see so many hospital leaders viewing their cell phones as the hospital president was speaking and conducting the meeting.   A few were writing, I thought that is good they are taking notes; until I saw them passing what they wrote to a colleague.  Then some were whispering to each other. Nobody was listening! All humbleness aside, I thought what kind of blundering buffoons am I associated?
stethoscope for listening
Then there are my in-laws.  Family gatherings are a hoot. I swear nobody listens much at all. My entertainment is observing the others when one of them is speaking…no one is truly listening. It is clear on their faces that their brains are churning, only thinking of what they want to say when the time comes. They are not paying any attention to their loved ones. Impatience takes over; they simply interrupt and start talking over the one speaking. It gets amusing when I hear more than one speaking at the same time. I do my best to focus on one of the orators. Of course, it is impossible to listen to all three. But often I get myself in trouble, one of those of which I was not focused asks a question of approval from me.   Not knowing what to say, the family chastises me for not listening!
Stephen Covey listening
My mother-in-law tells my loving wife, “Brad is so quiet, he never has much to say as the rest of us.” I gave up long ago, it’s no use, they always talk over me. I never told my family this, but I feel that they provide me a 250-word count and a twenty-second time limit of which to speak and that includes saying grace before the family meal. That’s it. One thing I am appreciative of my family of hot-air artists is that I have learned to listen.
Getting back to the workplace, are you a good listener?   As a leader, do you listen to your subordinates? Do you listen and give respect to your boss?  I want to suggest three roadblocks to listening effectively:
– Do you begin to shut out the speaker because you say to yourself, “I’ve heard this before” or a version of “been there done that?” Thus, your mind begins to wander. The speaker just may have a new twist for you on what you deem too familiar.
– You naturally shut out the intimidating, arrogant, self-righteous, and condescending speaker. Apprehension sets in; this is difficult to handle, but you must focus in to listen. Often you will find that those who speak in this manner are the ones who are insecure, uptight, and frantic about their role and position in the organization. It will do you well to listen to them.
– There is the knowledgeable colleague who has vital information. The problem is he or she does not know how to speak succinctly and to the point. You want a simple answer to a question, and you get a dissertation. No matter how you try to couch it, you get a long version. You are not going to change this person, learn patience and hang in there. Your “professor” is going to be a great source for you to hone your listening skills. Listen well, you surely do not want to ask the question all over again!
Often I think of listening as art. I feel that fewer and fewer are good listeners. I have always admired attorneys, stellar sales representatives, clergy, and successful leaders. Because they are great listeners. Keep focused, keep an open mind, and think what’s new. Surely too, you have heard this before; we are each blessed with two ears and one
mouthꟷa constant reminder that we should listen twice as much as we talk.
 Larry King listen