I had dinner the other night with a business colleague at a really nice restaurant, and everything was going well…but one thing really stood out to me. Sure, it was busy and our server’s section was full, but I could tell his mind was elsewhere. This proved to be the case when the food that was delivered to the table wasn’t what we ordered. It was CLOSE to what we ordered, but the detail wasn’t there and several things were wrong.
There’s a big difference between listening and hearing. In fact, the definition of the two paints a pretty clear picture:
Listening – (verb) to take notice of and act on what someone says.
Hearing – (noun) the faculty of perceiving sounds.
One thing should stand out immediately…one is a noun and the other is a verb. One just “is” and the other requires energy. If you’re going to ever have any level of influence with anyone…this is paramount. When you hear someone talking…you do just that…you hear them. It’s very passive, requires no energy or effort, and you will almost always tune out and your focus will be attracted elsewhere.
However, when you LISTEN – you’re taking an active role in the conversation and giving someone the gift of your attention. In reality, more often than not, this is really what people want the most in first place…they simply want to know someone is actually listening and paying attention to them. Here’s the beauty of this…through active listening you’re able to hear the things that aren’t being said.
People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. If you’re able to show them that you care by being an active listener and responding with questions…you’ll be amazed at the things that people will tell you. Rephrase what they’ve said to you back to them in the form of a question. For instance:
- So if I’m hearing you correctly…
- If I’m understanding what you’re saying…
- Just so I’m clear…are you saying….?
- Do I understand you to mean…?
Active listening and using clarifying questions like those will absolutely strengthen just about any relationship you’ve got…personal and professional. Guys…are you looking for a way to really impress your lady? Do this. Trust me. It’s really that simple.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Would the people around me consider me an active listener?
- What was the last thing someone said to me? (If you don’t remember, it’s likely you weren’t really listening)
- Do I regularly ask clarifying questions?
- Do I interrupt people?
Great listening skills will automatically put you leaps and bounds ahead of most everyone else. Don’t be the person sitting on the edge of your seat ready to jump in with your opinion. Check your ego at the door and be interested in the person you’re communicating with. Remember…in order to be interesting, you must first be interested.
Here’s a challenge for you. (I wish I could take credit for this, but this came from John Maxwell’s book):
Schedule a listening appointment. Set an appointment with the most important person in your life, and dedicate an hour to just communicating. Give that person your undivided attention (no phones, emails, texts, TV, etc) and do not spend less than 2/3 of the conversation listening to him or her.
Do that…and email me your stories! I’d love to hear how that worked for you, what you learned, the impact it had on your relationship, etc. Don’t be surprised if the person you ask to do this gives you a blank stare or looks at you like you’ve lost your mind (in fact, if that happens, I think it’s pretty clear what kind of listener you truly are), but do it anyway.
You’ll be glad you did!
“Psychologists teach us that a comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which you maintain a sense of security and out of which you experience great discomfort.”
“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal!” ~Robin S. Sharma
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t.”
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” – English Proverb
A few weeks ago I created an email group that I call my “Success Inner Circle” and I send out emails…very similar to what I’ve been blogging for the last however long. I try to send an email every day (Mon-Fri) because, seriously, no one should have to check their email on the weekend.
The emails come directly from me and any replies also come directly to me. This is just something I really enjoy doing and I’ve gotten so many requests from people to do something like this…so here it is.
Oh, and I’ll never sell or trade any of your information…ever.
If you’d like to sign up, and I hope that you do…click here.
Like I said, you’ll get emails from me that I hope you’ll find value in, and I do this absolutely free of charge. Just my gift to you. This will also give you first dibs on any Mastermind Groups, Master Class Studies, or anything else cool that we come up with.
So get signed up! All the cool kids are doing it!
I realize the title of the blog may be a little aggressive, especially considering the overall tone of 99% of the other postings on this site, but as you’ll read in this blog – it not only fits…it’s appropriate.
If you work for, manage, own, and/or operate a company that is having trouble attracting quality employees, or keeping them once you do hire them; this is for you.
I can sum it up in one word: culture.
Culture is the absolute most powerful aspect of any organization. Culture is about behavior. It’s the personality of the organization, and people do what people see.
A mentor of mine said that culture eats vision for lunch. He meant, if you don’t have a culture that is truly conducive to growth and success, the quality and clarity of your vision is moot. If you don’t have the buy-in of the people that are responsible for executing your vision, you’re going to fail. John Maxwell says it best:
“The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and then the dream.” (21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership)
People don’t go along with people they don’t get along with. The good news is that it’s not difficult to develop a culture truly conducive to success for everyone involved! It’s important to understand a couple things, first, though. For instance, most people don’t believe in themselves. Too many people believe they’re destined to fail. Not only that, most people also lack someone in their life that has faith in them. Then they come to work for a company that constantly reminds them of both of those self-limiting beliefs. Again, I say, there’s an easy fix to this.
One of my favorite quotes:
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – John C. Maxwell
In most companies, it’s just easier to fire someone than it is to train, coach, develop, and equip them. It’s a sad fact that 95% of “leaders” never develop another leader. I use quotations because the entire purpose behind leadership is to develop other leaders. If you’re not adding value to people, you’re not a leader…you’re a boss. They’re not following you because they want to go wherever you go and charge the hill for you, they’re following you because at the moment you’re the means in which they pay their bills. Trust me when I say the moment something else comes along, they’re gone. Focus on growing people, and your business will grow faster automatically.
Here are 5 things you can do to immediately improve (or create) a culture that people will want to be a part of:
- Value people. People want to know that what they’re doing matters and that someone actually cares.
- Think of new ways to add value to people. Believe in them before they succeed. It’s easy to have faith in people that are already successful, but it’s much more valuable when you’re able to show people you believe in them BEFORE they’ve “proven themselves”
- Look for ways to add to value to people. Emphasize their strengths. Find reasons to congratulate and offer praise.
- Do things to add value to people. When you congratulate your people – do so publicly. Any reprimands should always happen in private, but the opposite is true for praise and recognition.
- Encourage others to add value to people. This is what causes a culture to permeate an entire building and company. When you add value to people, offer praise and congratulations publicly, and then encourage everyone to do the same thing…it starts to catch on. Instead of gossip and backbiting, your team members are encouraging, empowering, and lifting each other!
You probably picked up on the pattern there, and it likely seems elementary at best. The fact is…hardly anyone actually does this. It’s impossible to sustain growth without equipping and developing people. Take the time and do the little things that show people you care. It’s really that important.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Richard Branson:
“Invest in and train your people so that they could walk away from your company and be total rockstars elsewhere in the industry…but treat them so well that they’d never consider it.”