Key Point: The art and dedication to real listening is under appreciated and still too absent from the workplace (and overall life).
Some leadership “stuff” just needs to be repeated and repeated I guess. The picture below is of 72-year-old leadership sage, Tom Peters.
He has been preaching mostly the same “stuff” since Waterman and he wrote the iconic “In Search of Excellence” in 1982. Why? Well the skeptic might say that he is just riding the skirt of success; like a cash cow, milk it until it’s dried out. However, I genuinely believe Tom passionately speaks about the “stuff” for one main reason: It works and helps people. (He doesn’t need the money, that’s for sure).
One of the focal points that he just drills his audience on, is the eternal challenge of effective LISTENING! To make the point, he notes that it takes exactly 15 seconds on average for a doctor to interrupt you during a visit. The experience is similar in many meetings at work and/or in life. And of course we all know that mobile devices and related distractions make the listening challenge even more daunting.
Virgin founder and celeb CEO, Richard Branson, devotes over 100 pages in his book to this topic. See Peter’s slide below:
1. Try writing, “LISTEN” on the top of whatever you use to take notes before going into any meeting. Silly? Never mind then.
2. Use a notebook and carry it with you everywhere. (Not a note pad). Branson has hundreds of notebooks. I’m no Branson, obviously, but I’ve used hundreds of books over the years too. I write key points, connect ideas into graphic systems, circle, underline and any number of things to help me listen. I am shocked to see people sitting and “listening” but not taking notes. (I wonder where their mind is? They must have exceptional memories too).
3. Ask active listening questions. Your questions versus comments should be in the range of 10 to one. Use a listening model like STP (See my video) to help you listen.
4. Practice, practice, practice listening.
Forever Listening in The Triangle
One Millennial View: When I first started working where I do, I had some co-worker give me directions and I took out a notepad to write them down. He goes “Dude, don’t be a guy that takes notes, just listen.” Frankly, I looked at him like he was out of his mind, but I just shut up, then jotted down the directions once he walked away. His reasoning has never been significant, and of course I take notes in meetings with zero resistance from any higher up. What my co-worker never understood, apparently, is there’s a reason Tom Peters’ lesson is timeless and transcends generations. It’s a good tool with a proven success rate no matter what old school or new school technology you use to write stuff down.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis