Food for Thought "If you have the right people, with good, basic values and good work ethic, you can have a tremendous journey."

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February 21, 2013

Listening with Your Eyes

Filed under: Six Sigma — Alec @ 5:00 pm

Nonverbal communication is probably the single most powerful form of communication and the least recognized. After leading numerous Kaizen events and People Leadership Seminars, I have realized that you hear just as much with your eyes as you do with your ears.

I am sure teachers have known this little fact for years. They can easily tell what students are listening, who wants to ask a question and even more so, who doesn’t want to be called on. Small observations will quickly tell you who is listening, who is bored and who is daydreaming. By taking notice of body language, facial expressions, hand gestures and eye movements you can see the thoughts of those around you almost as obviously as you can by the tone or volume of someone’s speech. Sometimes you even learn more!

As I facilitate classes and try to engage people in participation, I can tell who has a question or who does not understand, but would like to (most of the time). Not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of groups, let alone speaking their mind in mixed company at work. By utilizing subtle cues in body language and listening to each other, we can better communicate through issues in the workplace, find effective ways to complete projects and get everyone on the team to participate.

February 13, 2013

6 Levels of Listening

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Sales — Alec @ 12:16 pm

Have you ever noticed that the people you perceive as great listeners either agree with you or are open-minded to new ideas? Or the opposite can happen, the people you perceive as poor listeners are really just not agreeing with you or are very opinionated. Makes you wonder who is responsible for the listening in a conversation? Makes you wonder if you can be perceived as a good listener simply by being open-minded? Maybe great listeners are just very good at asking enough open-ended questions to make you think you agree with them?

That brings me to my theory that there are 6 Levels of Listening.

Level One: Hearing the noise. For example, if someone is too far away and they can’t hear the words then they probably aren’t listening. We must be close enough to hear the sounds.

Level Two: Understanding the words. If someone is speaking in Spanish and you don’t understand, it will be hard to listen well (darn near impossible). If suffer from hearing loss, a noisy room will make it hard to hear or understand.

Level Three: Do you agree or disagree? You heard the words and you understood, but did you agree with what was said? This is key. If you agree, you will most likely be perceived as a good listener. And if you disagree, your listening skills will be judged on how you communicate your disagreement.

Level Four: Remembering. Do you remember what someone said to you? I might listen to a sermon on Sunday, like it and agree with it, but forget what was said by Monday morning.

Level Five: Action. If you have done Levels 1 – 4 but do not take action, is that considered good listening or not? If you take action, the other people involved in the conversation know that actions were completed. There is a high probability of being perceived as a good listener when action is taken.

Level Six: Priority. Maybe you have other priorities that are interfering. You heard, understood, agreed, remembered, and put it on my List of Things to Do. But instead of following all the way through, you worked on things of higher priority. This may be perceived as a poor listening.

Conclusion: It is imperative that each participant in the communication process fully understands these Levels of Listening and is mutually taking responsibility for each step.

Remember, a person who thinks you are a poor listener is probably very opinionated, disagrees with you or is a poor persuader. Keeping this in mind during your next communications might help you listen better!

February 6, 2013

Share Our Information!

I believe almost all employees try to make the correct decisions based on data, input, experiences, and values. Usually we make decisions based on our biases and on the data we have available. In some situations we are tempted to not listen to the customer or corporate leadership because we think we know better based on our data and experiences. Sometimes we do have all the information or we have access to data that the others do not – it may change the decision options.

Problems arise when we don’t all have the same data. Communication is key to smooth business operations. We must constantly share the all the data, information and experiences we have access to. Ideally, most people in our Western culture will come to the same conclusion based upon the same information.

Problems may also result when the customer or corporate leadership has restrictions on information and data sharing (just the facts). Sometimes there are rules of confidentiality and important facts can’t be shared. In those instances, we may have to rely on just asking a few questions and having faith that the client or leadership is making all the right decisions.

If part of protocol includes open communication and information sharing, your decision-making process will be more effective. Teams will build trust with one another that they have explored all options, opinions have been heard and solid decisions are made. When the instance arises that the whole team does not participate, it will create less friction because of the pattern of communication and ongoing trust that has been established.

Just like kindergarten. If you always share your cookies with your classmates, the day you forget yours someone else with share their cookies with you.

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