Posts Tagged 'Listening'

Listening to Winston Churchill

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”
Winston Churchill

I love this quote from Winston Churchill as it seems to me that so many people find it difficult to listen, really listen. No doubt you have heard and understand that communicating involves so much more than words, yet how often do you or those around you put more effort in to speaking than listening?

Over the years I have been criticised by people I’ve worked with, for being too quiet in meetings, comments have followed along the lines of……”If you want to be a leader in this organisation you need to speak up more and stamp your mark” Even as a relatively new manager many years ago I wondered about this. Now, with years of maturity and experience on my side I actually quite enjoy it when I hear these comments as I recognise that this isn’t about me but about the person making the statement. It usually comes from someone who doesn’t have the courage “to sit down and listen.”

In the workplace (and out of it) we all come across people who are:
– The broadcaster – the ones who have to take centre stage and get their point across loudly and regularly
– The external thinker – who want to say what’s on their mind in any situation
– The uncomfortable with silencer – who fills the space when there is any kind of silence

With these people I would question how much listening and observing they are doing with the recipients of the communication.

There are also people who are:
– Great at listening and observing and then can use all the information they have gathered to take a discussion forward
– There are the listeners who create a space for others to say what they need to say
– The questioners who listen to what is being said and use questions well to reach further understanding, direction, to show empathy and to reach decisions

In any working situation it can be appropriate to have people in a discussion who can take up any of these roles as they all have a purpose. For communication to be effective it may be that sometimes the more avid talkers need to have courage to sit down and listen and those who prefer to listen and observe have courage to stand up and speak.

What ever your preferred style – now may be the time to try out something new and see how well your working relationships grow.

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There’s a time and a place for certain conversations

A friend was telling me the other day about her experience in the bank. Standing in the queue she was feeling a bit fidgety as she had lots to do and wanted to get out of the bank as quickly as possible. The queue inched forward until there was just one person in front of her. The moment came when the gentleman in front was about to be served and at this precise moment his phone rang and he took the call.

He quickly became involved in a conversation, talking with a booming voice that could be heard by all. The call continued for several minutes with those around not sure what to do; should my friend jump ahead of him to the teller that was now free? Instead she waited patiently as the man chatted away. With baited breadth everyone waited for a signal that the call was coming to an end, instead the gentleman involved upped his volume and said to his phone friend – “What you mean you can’t pee?”

On the same day this happened I was out about in Sydney and overheard numerous conversations that made me realise that often we communicate in ways that suit us rather than the other person or people in the conversation. I think this happens in the workplace as well as in the bank.

Understanding what you want to achieve in any conversation is the starting point for working out the appropriate environment and time for your conversation to happen. Some people are particularly inclined to say things as they come in to their head to get things off their chest. Whilst this may work for them does it work for the recipients and is the information received in the way that’s intended?

It would seem that the person on the other end of the call wanted someone to listen and probably to be sympathetic. So how could the man in the bank have handled the conversation differently so he was able to do these things? In this case I think changing the time and the environment may have meant a better conversation taking place.

A conversation can only be truly successful if real listening takes place, finding the environment and time is a starting point for this to happen.