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Aug 17, 201712:23 PMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

Are you listening to me?

(page 1 of 2)

Years ago, a great teacher told a class I attended that proactive listening is the path to great success. After a couple recent interactions I’m thinking this lesson needs to be restated for today. Right now, with so many folks paying more attention to their smartphones than they are to real listening, we experience confusion, misunderstandings, and costly assumptions almost daily. Some friends and I were discussing this recently and we decided that proactive listening should be part of every company’s training program.

People spend from 70–80% of their day engaged in some form of communication, with at least half of that time devoted to listening. Research tells us that the average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words within 24 hours, and most of us only remember about 25% of what we hear.

I recently read that men use only half of their brain to listen, while women listen with both lobes. The article suggested that if women feel like their spouse or significant other isn’t hearing what they’re saying, this might be the reason. Well, that should at least make some women feel a little better, learning that it’s a “man thing.”

Especially in business, we should all work on listening proactively. Active listening helps build trust. Customers and clients want to feel heard. One of my business friends said she recently had what she calls the worst haircut ever experience due to a “listening misunderstanding.” Another colleague had to make two trips for a pick-up order because the person taking the phone order wrote it down wrong. Whether it’s a bank, a big-box store, a fast food drive-up window, a hair salon, or anywhere else you spend money, you want to feel like you’re being heard and that you will get what you came for.


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