A client recently asked me how I was able to understand them so quickly. She was curious about what advice I’d gotten that enabled me “get integrated so quickly”. I told her the best advice is ever gotten was –
As a newbie employee, manager, leader, consultant or whatever one of the very best ways you can make a difference quickly is to listen. Yes, I know this isn’t blinding flash if insight. It’s pretty commonsensical (yes that’s a word, look it up). But we don’t do it.
We’ve been taught to participate- share our thoughts or express our feelings. Somehow we’ve been led to believe that participating means making sounds come out of our mouths. But what if that is bull-cocky? What if we participated by mostly LISTENING?!?!?
The only way to really understand an organization, position, team or person is to listen to what to have to say. But it’s a special kind of listening. The kind where you:
• Aren’t thinking of the next thing to say
• Aren’t thinking about why they are wrong
• Wondering when they’ll stop talking
Then, when you think it’s your turn to talk…shut up some more! Sometimes that will mean that you don’t say anything or wait until you are asked for input.
That’s it. Listen a lot. You’d be amazed at how much you can learn just by listening. It’s a powerful tool (great TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli regarding the power of this)
You’ll be able to craft proposals, solutions and ideas that are met with acceptance because – YOU KNOW HOW THEY THINK and you might even care a little about them.
So remember, stop talking and listen.
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.