Eight Actions to be an
- by Stacey Hanke
As I have said more
than once before on this site, I find it sad that more attention is not given
to the realm of Communications in project management. After all, satisfactory
communication is fundamental to the process of "Getting things done"! That is:
What is to be done: Who is to do it; and By when? However,
communication is a two-way street. On the one hand, the giver of the orders, and
on the other, someone there to receive the orders and, most importantly, that
they are able and willing to receive said orders. In other words, they must be
If you look at the Site Map on my web site covering
Project Information/ Communications Management
you will find more than 40 articles on getting the word out effectively.
Yet, there is only one article on active listening.
So it should not come as a surprise than when Erin MacDonald-Birnbaum alerted
me to the following article by Author Stacey Hanke, I perked up immediately. Stacy
has kindly given me permission to republish the following article for the benefit
of all our readers.
introduces the topic as follows:
"While we spend more than three
quarters of our day in some form of communication most of that spent at
work we only hear about a quarter of what is said to us. Simply put, we
are terrible listeners. I invite you to consider the following article by Stacey
Hanke, CEO of Stacey Hanke, Inc. and author of Influence Redefined, 'Eight Actions
to be an Exceptional Listener' simple ways we can stop talking, stop letting
distractions hurt our relationship and actually start listening."
to have you share this unique perspective with your readers. Please let me know
if you have any interest in the piece or interviewing Stacey on this topic. I
look forward to hearing from you.
Actions to be an Exceptional Listener
- by Stacey Hanke
people consider themselves to be good listeners, finding it hard to admit otherwise.
We know listening is vital to building strong relationships with coworkers, managers,
clients, and leadership. In fact in the business world, it is considered to be
the single most important communication skill necessary, valued more highly than
We spend between 70 to 80% of each day engaged in communication,
with over half that time devoted to listening, and yet we struggle to do it effectively.
Because we hear speech at a rate of 500-1000 words per minute, and only speak
125-175 words per minute, we become easily bored, distracted and inattentive.
By recognizing listening as a skill necessary to establish and grow business relationships,
we can begin prioritizing our need to do it well. Here are eight ways to immediately
stop talking and start listening:
1. "My Turn, My Turn!"
it, when others start speaking you immediately begin thinking of what to say next.
Speaking may be considered relatively easy by most, but many fail to effectively
listen. Stop competing for your turn to talk and simply listen! Deliberately concentrate
your focus on the speaker, keeping natural eye contact, and tune into their facial
expressions and body language. Clear your mind and focus on the message until
they have completed their thoughts.
2. "Wait, let me get
Few things are as inconsiderate or hard to ignore like the
distraction of a device; yet, many of us are guilty to giving in to its demand
for our attention. Even when we try, it is next to impossible to concentrate on
someone speaking when the phone sitting next to us is buzzing with text messages,
alerts, emails, and phone calls. If you're in a conversation, silence your device.
Give your respect to those speaking by removing any distractions that may compete
with their message.
3. "I see. Go on."
listening is more than just hearing what someone says, it's about the desire to
understand what someone is trying to convey. Mindtools a
career skills development group reported that people only remember between
25-50% of what is heard, meaning we pay attention to less than half of what someone
says. By using words of encouragement such as "I see" and "Go on," we can boost
our ability to retain conversational details. This style of interaction also promotes
the conversation often revealing more details than the speaker originally considered
. "Silence is golden.
to get comfortable with silence in your conversations. Many of us are uncomfortable
with quiet pauses and rush to fill the dead space. Instead, allow the silence
to permeate the moment and give time for the speaker to transition between topics.
Pausing between the end of their thought and the beginning of yours allows time
for you to formulate a clear and concise response.
I understand you to say is…"
Imagine the number of times we could
prevent miscommunication if we took a moment to paraphrase what we thought the
speaker was saying. Paraphrasing helps create an opportunity for clarification
if the speaker feels they were misunderstood. It provides them another chance
to communicate their thoughts and ensure everyone is on the same page.
long has this been occurring?"
Open-ended questions have power!
They have the power to explore the conversation and shed light on facts that are
missing. Consider how much more information you can learn if you were to ask a
venting coworker "How long has this been going on," versus "Has this been going
on long?" A simple yes or no response doesn't provide the speaker an opportunity
to elaborate, but the open-ended question invites them to continue in detail.
are you saying without saying?"
While many of our conversations
may be casual, some of them serve a purpose not so easily heard. Listening for
the intent of someone speaking can help reveal the reason they are sharing with
you in the first place. By listening intently, you can witness whether their body
language, gestures, and facial expressions match their message. If not, listen
for their intent. Read between the lines and identify what they are saying without
8. "Just checking in on you."
is powerful! Just because a conversation has ended doesn't mean the situation
has. If you want to build a trusting relationship with your coworkers, work on
your ability to demonstrate empathy. Empathy expresses compassion and understanding
for the conversation shared. Whether you are empathetic throughout the conversation
or after, bringing this level of engagement to the conversation will further your
relationship and create a degree of mutual respect.
By mindfully listening
to coworkers and colleagues, you will begin establishing relationships built on
trust and respect. The credibility you earn as your peers' listener will help
you become their partner in success.
1. See maxwideman.com/sitemap/info.htm
2. See Issacon maxwideman.com/issacons4/iac1433/index.htm
3. Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert
of Stacey Hanke Inc. She is the author of Influence Redefined: Be the Leader
You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday and Yes You Can! Everything You
Need From A to Z to Influence Others to Take Action. Stacey and her team have
delivered thousands of presentations and workshops for leaders of Fortune 500
companies. Learn more about her team and company at www.staceyhankeinc.com.
4. Contact Erin at: firstname.lastname@example.org