Listening Like You Mean It

I Am Listening

It is a Sunday morning at about 4:45 a.m. Like many of you, I do some of my best work when I wake up in the middle of the night. Listening to the silence around me helps me to concentrate. Sometimes it is very clear that I won’t fall right back to sleep, so I get up and do some work. This morning I woke up at about 4:00 a.m. and have been working since.

Tuesday morning I will be giving the opening keynote at the Centene Corporation’s Trainers” Summit in St. Louis, Missouri. The topic is effective communication.

Effective Communication

This has given me the opportunity to take a deep dive into just what comprises effective communication. People often think of communication as speaking or writing. The truth is effective communication is two-sided. It is a process of output and input. Both sides of the equation have to be working in order for communication to be effective.

Listening is as important to effective communication as is speaking. For years I was a poor listener. I didn’t realize it until someone rudely pointed it out. Maybe it took a rude “intervention” to change my perspective.

Yes, I Had …

People would make a comment in a conversation and I would respond by telling how I had a similar situation. You probably know how that goes. You say something like, “I played tennis this weekend and hurt my back.” I would respond with something like, “Yes, that happened to me one time I … blah, blah, blah.”

The best response would have been something like, “Really, tell me more.” I was not really listening to what the person was saying. Instead of listening, I was preparing my answer. They were not telling me about their event so they could hear about mine.

I Was Not Listening

Now I was not doing it to take over the conversation. I really thought I was helping to show my sympathy or at least empathy for the speaker. I was saying it in a way to help show solidarity. It was just not the right way. Then one day someone called me out on it in the rudest of ways and I recognized what I was doing. I wasn’t really listening.

Oh, sure it hurt my feelings for a minute or two. But is has really changed the way I listen. I notice other people doing what I used to do and from this perspective I can now appreciate how annoying it is.

So when I speak to the trainers at Centene Corporation this Tuesday about effective communication I am going to be sure to include a part about listening.

Need A Good Event Topic?

If you would be open to a conversation about me speaking at one of your events, contact me. I am best known for creating a Culture of Confidence. I work exclusively with organizations that want their people to be self-assured, decisive and productive. Effective communication is just one of the skills that helps them along the path.