We all have heard the phrase listen to understand not to respond. This is something that was told to me early on in my leadership development by my mentor. I had a hard time with this initially coming with a technical background and focusing on fixing problems and getting results immediately so this is something that I had to take to heart. There are still times that I find myself listening solely to respond to the statement as opposed to understanding what the person is saying and something that I have had to think about during meetings and one on ones.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”― Stephen R. Covey
What does it really mean, “listen to understand”. Anyone can listen to respond to a question or statement but it takes someone skilled in communications to listen and truly understand what the subject is saying. You have to formulate and restate what they have told you in your head until it makes perfect sense to you. This is not a skill that comes easy and a lot of the time it requires you to ask a lot of questions from your subject or your audience to make sure that you truly understand the subject and are not just responding to their statements.
Here is a challenge in the art of listening to understand. The next time you have a one on one with one of your agents or your manager stop and take a minute to truly listen to what they are saying. Repeat it in your head a few times and ask a question if you do not truly understand it. You have to be honest with yourself in this regard because if you do not understand you need to.
Let me know how this goes for you, post a comment or kick me an email.