Active Listening to Aid Business

As part of my duties as a Media Manager, I research trends and news and then translate all the information I’ve learned into a usable format that can benefit our clients.  As an avid reader and technology enthusiast, I enjoy that part of my job a lot, but there are gaps in my knowledge that can only be filled by listening to my clients and communicating with them about the trends and news that they are seeing ‘on the ground’ and ‘in the thick of it’.  Active listening and client engagement are skills that I have learned over time, and as a professional I have had to hone and improve.

Active listening is the act of setting aside your thoughts and responses to input, and instead absorb what you are being told (or reading in an email, etc.).  Imagine, for instance, that you are learning a new language and are being tested on the previous conversation you had with your teacher. If you were busy formulating responses while the teacher was speaking to you, you might not be able to fully articulate the vocabulary they were using, and you might even miss the verb tenses that were used. An active listener picks up the nuances of a conversation (even in a language they are learning) by truly listening, absorbing, and reflecting.  Each part of a sentence is parsed apart and inspected for what it is, rather than for what ones’ responses might be.

 

In business, active listening means that you are in the moment when you are conversing with a client or a customer. To be an active listener, you must keep at bay each impulse to reply immediately or to cut off another speaker with your own thoughts. This act of quiescence does not mean you ignore your thoughts or stop contributing, but it does mean that you might have to quiet some immediate impulses to interrupt or move the conversation into the direction of your own choosing.  When you begin to allow yourself to simply listen and absorb, you’ll find that the direction of your choosing was probably off track anyway.

Our minds often whirl with excitement in conversation, and this excitement can change our decision making processes and alter our perceptions. Take a moment to let your colleagues and customers fully illustrate their thoughts through conversation or writing, and you’ll find that your enthusiasm can be put to better use after carefully and actively listening to another. In business, your customers, clients, and co-workers can all benefit from a more engaged and engaging type of communication. When you spend time and energy actively listening, your thoughts will become more clear and you’ll be able to translate them more easily to others – especially if you’ve earned a greater respect from them through conscientious and thoughtful consideration of their ideas.