We now live in an age where technology is readily available for us to communicate with others at any time of the day or night. Yet are we better communicators?
Do we listen to what people are saying to us … and what they are not saying to us? Are we truly listening? One of the biggest problems in communication today is that we do not listen to understand; we listen to reply.
We can live at a superficial level and pretend that we are listening to those around us. Then when they act differently to what they have said or what we have 'heard', it surprises us. The world is a noisy place. We seem to allow this noise to take away our attention from what is important – what others are really saying to us. Their actions can speak volumes.
Impact on working relationships
The impact of not listening can be felt at all levels in work situations – with team members and clients.
With your team
As a leader, you may miss problems that are beginning to unfold within the team. If you listen to the whole message you may be able to deal with those problems before they escalate to a point that productivity is affected.
Team members look to their leaders for guidance and support. They may not necessarily tell you if there is a problem. However symptoms will become evident by their actions.
With your clients
Your clients want you to make their lives easier, not to complicate them. If you are not listening then you will miss the opportunity to deal with the early signs of discontent.
Looking after your existing clients helps to maintain good relationships. In turn, there is a greater chance that they will refer your services because you have made the effort to really listen to them.
Conscious listening creates understanding of messages from both your team members and your clients.
RASA to consciously listen
In his TED Talk, 5 Ways to Listen Better, Julian Treasure speaks about consciously focusing on listening. He provides a simple acronym to help us listen better: RASA. Rasa in Sanskrit means 'essence'.
RASA stands for:
Pay attention to the whole message and do not allow the noise of everything around you to distract you.
Show that you are listening by making noises such as 'mmm' and 'ok'.
Let the person know that you value what they have said by reflecting back to them your understanding of what they have said to you.
Ask questions to check your understanding.
The next time you are in a conversation with a team member or a client, use RASA to consciously listen. You may be surprised what you actually hear.
Do you have preferred techniques to consciously listen to what is being said? Share them below.
Maria Pantalone is the author of Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders. Maria works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. She provides tailored programs in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication as a leader and team member. Maria's programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.