Tag Archives: National Association of Counties

Have you LISTENED lately?

21 Oct

Like, really listened?

I just got done with a webinar put on by the National Association of Counties (NACo) called “Listen to Understand” in which listening as a communicator was discussed. I had an overwhelming urge to tweet each powerful idea that was presented but found that each idea centered around the topic of being SILENT. So, I resisted the urge and jotted down a few important notes throughout the presentation, on paper. Let me outline a few of those below.

  • The Paradigm of Listening:

o   Ineffective: ‘I listen with the intent to reply.’

o   Effective: ‘I listen with the intent to understand.’

o   In order to fully understand what we listen to, we need to approach each conversation from an angle of wanting to understand, not wanting to respond. Once we allow ourselves the appropriate amount of time to understand what it is that we are being told, only then can we formulate a complete response.

  • Multitasking:

o   One of the first things the audience was asked when the webinar began was ‘what is the biggest problem when you listen’ and overwhelmingly, 86% answered (myself included) that we multitasked when we should be listening fully.

o   Point is, in good listening situations, you MUST stop multitasking when someone needs you to listen. Make time for them.

  • Empathic Listening:

o   IS reflecting what is said and saying it in our own words.

o   IS NOT advising, counseling, replying, refuting, solving, fixing, changing, judging, agreeing, disagreeing, questioning, analyzing, or figuring out.

  • WAIT:

o   “Why Am I Talking”

o   If you find yourself talking when you should be listening, WAIT. Ask yourself, why am I talking? The answer is that you should not be, now go back to listening.

o   If there is high emotion in what you are listening to, stop talking. Wait until the emotion is down or you are asked to respond. Until then, just listen.

  • Don’t Be Afraid of Silence:

o   It’s ironic that both LISTEN and SILENT have the same letters, just rearranged.

o   As communicators, we are taught to respond, to communicate, to fear silence. However, we need to remind ourselves that sometimes it’s necessary to be silent in order for us to be completely effective at our job.

o   Being an effective listener allows us the chance to be an effective communicator, one that provides the complete, correct message in return.

Finally, one last tidbit that I would like to share with you is the Chinese symbol that means “To Listen With a Virtuous Heart”. Note that the symbol contains the following symbols: Ears, Eyes, Heart. It does NOT contain however, the Mouth.

Effective two-way communication is becoming the norm for companies nowadays. It’s not just about pushing out a message, but also about answering questions and listening to what our audience needs and wants. In all honesty, the information in this webinar was total common sense but it opened my eyes. Well done, NACo. We all need reminders like these.