The ability to communicate with each other is one of the most essential business skills to have. If we cannot communicate with those we are working with then things can become very difficult indeed.
So why don’t people communicate effectively? Well there are a number of reasons, but the main one we have found is that they are not actually listening. Most of us are actually bad listeners and we don’t realise it. For many of us the opposite of talking isn’t listening, it’s waiting.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
I’ve found this quote to be very true. I am guilty of it myself. Many times. It’s very easy not to listen properly. For example, you’re going to a creative meeting about a certain issue. You think you’ve got the answer, so the meeting essentially turns into a waiting game whilst you politely “listen” to others take their turn to present their idea, but are essentially just passing time until you can say your piece. You aren’t interested in developing other people’s ideas, you are barely taking in any of the information. You are stuck in your head, obsessing about your idea.
Imagine presenting your idea and the whole time the rest of the people in the room weren’t paying attention to your idea. They were just waiting until you have finished so they can present their own idea. How would that make you feel? Not feeling great is it? That is essentially what you’re causing the other person to feel when you are doing it yourself.
“Active listening” is taught through improv to enable better communication, leadership and teamwork. We train active listening skills. Listening starts from a position of humility, it’s about accepting that great ideas are produced by great teams working well. Great individuals thrive in great teams, but ego can stop us listening and collaborating well. In improv we are taught to make each other look good. Every player knows someone has got their back, which builds trust.
Listening makes good business sense too; if you don’t listen to staff and customers you may miss feedback and ideas that could improve the bottom line. Further, learning how to collaborate well helps keep staff happy, allowing you to retain talent in the long run and let’s face it: happy staff are productive staff.
Why not say to a colleague before a presentation or pitch “You’re a genius and I’ve got your back”, and really mean it. You will be surprised the effect it will have. If you both go in there knowing you’re both there supporting each other your confidence will grow as you know you have support if you need it.
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