If the Shoe Fits: How Well do You Listen?

If the Shoe Fits: How Well do You Listen?

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

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A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

I’ve cited Harvard Business School’s James Heskett’s insightful questions and the discussions they foster many times.  

This time he asks if listening is becoming a lost art.

In his new book Quick and Nimble, based on more than 200 interviews, Adam Bryant concludes, that, among other things, managers need to have more “adult conversations” —conversations needed to work through “inevitable disagreements and misunderstandings” —with our direct reports. Such conversations require careful listening.

In the same book he reports that CEOs expressed major concerns about the misuse and overuse of e-mail, something that they feel encourages disputes to escalate more rapidly than if face-to-face conversations had taken place instead. The latter, however, would require people to listen.

As to the concerns about email, I would add abuse to the misuse and overuse, as well as adding texting, instant messaging and, although not as obvious, cell phones. (Nobody is really listening while navigating rush hour, zipping down the highway at 70 or listening to the GPS when they are late to a meeting.)

Listening is both skill and art, but it’s also a revenue generator—just ask Tony Hsieh, whose own willingness to listen helped create a culture that’s the envy of corporations everywhere, while the listening skills he encourages in his CSRs have sold millions of pairs of shoes, or the Asana founders, who built the company on mindfulness, a philosophy grounded in listening.

Incorporating listening into your cultural DNA requires it to be universally manifested starting with you.

If you aren’t willing to put down your phone, discuss stuff in person, facilitate and carefully listen to disagreement then don’t expect anyone else to do so.

Image credit: HikingArtist

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