Archive for May, 2011
Does it drive you crazy when someone says to you “I hear what you say” – but you really wonder if they were listening to what you have to say?
Just recently I’ve been coaching a couple of managers who know they are not very good at letting people finish what they have to say before they interject. The interruption happens as they believe they have something valuable to contribute and want to add it to the conversation before they forget it.
Whether you are in conversation with a colleague or a fellow networker, if you want someone to know you are interested in what they have to say, hearing their words is not enough. You have to actively listen. That means you need to show them you are listening and value their contribution.
The following 7 easy tips to show people you are listening may seem pretty obvious when you read them – but start practising them and you will more easily build rapport and trust and create mutual respect.
- Look at someone if they are talking to you – don’t get distracted by anything else or anyone else in the room.
- Nod your head or make the odd mm.. to let them know they still have your attention.
- Let your body language let them know you are interested. If you tend to interrupt, sit back in your chair so it doesn’t look like you are just waiting to interject, or, sit forward if you tend to get distracted – it will narrow the view around you!
- Paraphrase back to them what they have just said as proof you have listened and to make sure you have understood.
- If you want to know more or need clarification, ask open questions starting with ‘what, how or when’ to encourage them to say more.
- Don’t end their sentences, you could get it wrong and miss some vital information.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Some of the most vital information comes out when time is given to reflect and consider a response.
I am a great fan of Andrew Marr as an interviewer, so when you see all the re runs of his interview with Obama, watch how he is actively listening whilst still being able to make it clear he has something to add or ask without talking over his interviewee. Even Obama, in his interview, states that he wants to listen more; as Presidents tend to talk more than listen!
For a number of reasons, many business owners have staff but still have difficulty delegating. Does one of the following sound like you?
• You haven’t prepared a proper job description, so neither you nor your employee are clear about their role in the company, their responsibilities and the authority they have to take decisions. As a result, you both shuffle uncomfortably around the issue; you’re not sure if you can trust them – or maybe should even impose on them – while your employee is left wondering why you can’t let him just get on with the job!
• You might feel the business is your ‘baby’ and you can’t leave it in the hands of a ‘sitter’ while you go away and enjoy yourself (or, more probably, apply yourself to some other aspect of the job).
• Maybe you haven’t planned the training your employee needs to perform the job to the level of excellence you expect?
Core to all of the above, is to be sure you have identified the potential of each member of staff to ensure they are working to their strengths. That may mean some shifting of responsibilities to get the best from each team member to maximise productivity and inspire confidence in their ability to do the best job.
Once you know the strengths of your team, you will feel much more able to let go knowing the job will be completed on time and to the high standards you and your clients expect. By delegating effectively, you will have more time to do what you do best rather than trying to be jack of all trades.