Thought Starters

QOTW 2013: Week 14: Pay attention! I am only going to tell you this once.

I read somewhere that listening is really hard. Really?

I am just finishing up a book called The Pin Drop Principle. Admittedly, I read a little less than I should but I do enjoy it. Over the past few years I have read very little for pleasure. I read mostly non-fiction. I find the stuff I learn very gratifying. Mostly.

This business book’s subject is about honing your presentation skills written from the perspective of how actors prepare for their performances. There are a ton of great tips and the book has been very helpful considering I am giving my first “formal” presentation at a course on reinventing construction project delivery in May. My subject is collaborative project delivery which is something I have a real passion for.

What struck me is the chapter on listening.

What?

Why include listening as part of a book on presentations? Well, the importance lies in the interaction between us; you as the communicator and me as the receiver and vice versa. The relationship between the two is fundamental in good communication.

Until I got through this chapter I thought I was an expert at listening. I have been listening off and on for 48 years so I am certainly an expert, right?

Not really.

The book suggested up to 70% of people don’t know how to listen well. Up to 70%! Really? And, it goes on to say most of us think we are in the 30% but in reality are not even close. There are a lot of ways to improve our listening skills and for me this is now of critical importance.

From this moment forward.

I can only imagine what good stuff I may have missed.

The chapter offers a myriad of tips to help you improve your listening skills. The first one, right out of the gate, seemed so obvious but, in fact, remains the biggest culprit of this day and age; avoiding distractions. To me, the smart phone has perpetuated this issue (see how I neatly blamed something else, there?).

My wife and I were talking about this while walking the pup on Friday. I was a lovely late March day; warm and sunny. I mentioned that I had a revelation.

We stopped in our tracks, looked at each other and started laughing.

You see, my wife knows full well, in certain situations, occasionally interrupting someone in the middle of a thought is something I have a propensity to do. I realised after reading this chapter that doing that not only is rude but also very disrespectful. Sure, I know that but what’s most important is the knowledge that I have not only been disrespectful but that I have completely missed what was being said. There is no way I could have understood what I was being told because my mind was already underway looking for a response before the thought was even finished.

Well, you can bet that’s not going to happen anymore. Not if I have anything to do with it!

I wonder if this same notation applies to reading.

I have read blog entries that suggest people skim content. I have always found that odd. In a similar manner to listening how can we absorb the essence of a piece of content if we don’t take the time to read it?

So, I ask myself, “Why even put yourself there if you don’t have the time?”

 

That brings us to today’s quote.

I don’t believe I have ever read anything by George Bernard Shaw but he certainly had a quote that fits very well to this week’s story. I can’t help respect a Nobel laureate and the namesake for Ontario’s Shaw Festival. Take it away George.

If that doesn’t brighten your day then maybe this will.

 

There are two fish in a tank. One turns to the other and says, “‘You man the guns, I’ll drive!”

 

Have a great Monday and an awesome week.

If you want to read last week’s quote simply click here.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

About this Author: Ralph Dopping (198 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday: www.designdialog.ca


14 comments
AlliPolin
AlliPolin

Sometimes I think I'm listening to someone else only to suddenly notice that I'm listening to the voice in my head saying "oh yeah!  you totally know what they're saying.  Remember the time... you better tell them about that"  Ummm.., doesn't count as listening even if I'm doing a lot of nodding.  

 

I once took a training course that literally spent an entire unit on how to listen and made us practice over and over and over. I learned a ton... like to be OK with pauses and silence.  Gives others a chance to think and not only a space to fill with my own voice. 

 

Thanks, Ralph!

Jen Olney
Jen Olney

I admit, I have the inability at times to shut up - I seems to forget that when I'm listening. I say a lot of "uh huh, yes, uh huh" etc. which can throw off the flow of the conversation and yes, seems like I'm not listening. I force myself to close my mouth and not speak. It's not that I don't hear what is being said, it's my way of processing. I know that some may find it rude. Good points, Ralph

bdorman264
bdorman264

Yeah, and I have been speaking English X number of years and thought I knew that too....

 

I try to be a better listener, but know I don't do a good job. If everybody will just shut the hell up so I can talk then I won't have to listen, huh? I think I'll check out the book; didn't you say there was a listening club out there somewhere? 

AlaskaChickBlog
AlaskaChickBlog

George Bernard Shaw is one of my favorite people to learn from! (His quotes, I mean.) “Some men see things as they are and say why – I dream things that never were and say why not.” and the one about apples, too.

 

Ralph, I recently read this important point, about listening well. I, like you, never realized I was doing it (already working out my response before the other person was even done speaking) until then. It is hard not to do! I know, because I have caught myself doing it! I think it is one of the reasons I am so happy here in the web... it gives me time to read what you have to share.... read it again.... think some more and THEN add my two cents... if I still feel as if "I got it".

 

We don't get that when we are speaking to each other. There is no "rewind" and rarely... do people understand that you need time to process the thought you share, before receiving something back. (I kinda feel like I do as I am trying to take part in Tweet-chats.)

 

FYI- I totally didn't get the fish joke.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Listening is the most powerful skill to possess in business.

 

Cheers, Ralph! : )

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Wonderful stuff Mr. Dopping. Listening is something everyone can work on. Going one step further: I think you can actually train yourself to be more interested in what others are telling you, which leads to better listening and learning a whole more about all kinds of things.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Did you say something? I wasn't listening. Just kidding!!!! Happy April 1st my friend. Cheers! Kaarina

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@AlliPolin Sounds like it was a great course. I need one of those myself. Thanks for stopping by. I do appreciate your input. Cheers.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@Jen Olney Thanks Jen. One of the tips in the book suggests that any kind of activity by the listener detract from the message being received. Of course in degrees. I wonder if you stopped completely if you would get more from the message? I do a similar thing which I think I will try to change. Chefs and thanks for coming by.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@bdorman264 Funny guy. Yes, I was making fun of the Listening Club a few posts ago. Do you think I could find it again? No. That would take some memory and effort. Get the book. If one guy can learn from it that would be you. Mr. Sales. I would love to know how much of the stuff in the book you already inherently know. Cheers sir.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@AlaskaChickBlog OMG Amber. The fish are in a military tank. How could they be? The impossibility is what make it funny. To me. :-) You are so right about the remind. The only recourse we have is to ask a clarifying question when in a conversation. Taking time to respond is totally appropriate in a business environment but can be a convo killer socially. I suppose there's a bit of give and take.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@Mark_Harai It certainly can be. Thanks Mark.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@barrettrossie Hey Barrett. I would love to know how to do that. There is a brief portion of the chapter on active listening. I need to give that another read. It's a good thing this listening,huh? ;-) Cheers sir.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@KDillabough No fooling? Thanks K. Hope you enjoyed the day. Cheers.

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  1. [...] better listeners as well. My north of the border friend Ralph Dopping referenced it in one of his posts and maybe now I will get the book. I tried to recall which post it was before I had to search for [...]