Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Developing Corporate Listening Skills

We all hear what is being said to us through a filter of personal experience, education, cultural differences, baggage and our own personality style, which in many cases means that we don't hear at all.   This Blogger CEO is often very frustrated during company meetings to realize that what is being said is not being internalized by many Managers in the room.   That is case because these filters often get in the way of real understanding.   For that reason, it cannot be assumed that all staff member attending a meeting are walking away with the right operative, or information.  This can be the reason work does not get done, as directed, or in the time frame necessary.  

There is also the notion of "teachable moment", that is people will internalize information only when they need to act on it.   Otherwise, information can become nothing more than superficial knowledge.   It is clear to me, especially during long meetings, that constant confirmation is necessary to make sure staff members are hearing what is being said.   The way to do that is through frequent engagement with key members in the meeting to see if they are really hearing what is being said.   Tangents that arise in the discussion are an indication that staff members are using their particular filters to sort information.   Sometimes this is positive and valuable, while other times it can be a waste of time. 

Developing Corporate Listening Skills is necessary to meaningful communications within a company.   Anyone managing a meeting must assume that only about 25% of what is being communicated is being internalized.  This percentage will go down further the longer the meeting.  If the goal is to promote learning during a meeting, then there must be some means of actually manipulating the information, which forces 100% attention by the participants.   Even then, validation of learning must take place.   While people can appear to be listening, more often than not, they do not completely hear, or understand what is being said.   So, the burden for developing understanding is on the business leader running the meeting, not the participants in attendance.   

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