Entrepreneurs, leaders and managers who are close to perfecting the art of listening are likely to do better than those who lack basic listening skills. Listening is a far-reaching skill that will, at the very least, help you do one of two things:
- Build a team and work environment founded on creativity and respect
- Create and offer a product or service that prospective customers genuinely want to purchase
Looking at It Both Ways
A company is likely going to benefit if everyone feels like they are included and a part of something. This will start a positive chain reaction. When people feel listened to, relationships are strengthened and team dynamics improve drastically. Creativity starts flowing as people begin to feel more confident in themselves.
When creativity starts to flow, it’s easier to create and offer a product or service that prospective customers genuinely want to purchase. This all stems from the moment that team members feel comfortable putting forward their ideas and responses, knowing that they will be acknowledged and considered. The feeling leads to more innovative thinking which can help push a company towards coming up with the best way to package a product or service for their target audience.
Learning to Listen The Right Way
It may not exactly be surprising to hear that listening is a skill, but it’s definitely worth examining carefully. The only way to become a better listener is to practice doing it. As entrepreneurs, many of us tend to not listen as effectively as we could. Sometimes your ears are wide open and you’re fully focusing on what someone has to say, and other times people assume they already know what they are about to hear and tune out, getting it wrong right from the beginning. There are also times when people listen and react defensively immediately, a move which is the most detrimental by far — especially when you’re trying to run a business successfully.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to minimize these issues:
- Change your mindset: Despite what someone says to you, you should be ready to take responsibility as opposed to allocating blame. You need to motivate yourself to fully understand the issue at hand.
- Try listening without judging: The people in the conversation’s views may be veering in a direction completely opposite to your own. But this should inform you that the other person’s perception has its own validity. Through constructive criticism, entrepreneurs and leaders can identify areas of weakness in themselves and others, which can be improved upon.
- Take some time to comprehend what was said: After the person is done speaking, take some time to summarize what was said and ask the speaker to clarify whether your understanding matches their point of view. This should help you sum up everything you’ve heard and fully process the information.
It may seem simple enough, but many leaders don’t listen carefully. They follow bad practices like constantly thinking about the next response or argument, mentally disagreeing with the speaker before they even finish, making evaluations and judgments and allowing their minds to wander.
But if you’re looking to build a successful business, understanding the basic concept of listening to others should be step one on your to-do list.