I'm a big TED fan. I also have secret crush on Guy Raz over at NPR and love his podcast "TED Radio Hour." You can pretty much bet that when I have my headphones stuffed in my ears I am letting his voice wash over me as I drift into the topic at hand.
Just the other day I was listening to the September 15th episode titled "Extrasensory" and in the last portion of the episode Guy interviewed Julian Treasure, a repeat TED speaker who discussed listening, and in particular active listening. Treasure goes on to state that we as a society are losing our ability to listen with intention. I certainly agree with him on that.
We are so distracted by our gadgets--new mails, tweets, mentions, DMs, PMs, Whatsapps, posts, tweets, pins, snaps, pics, blah!--that our conversations are being interrupted constantly by the bings, dings, whistles and beeps from our devices, that are loosing touch with each other.
It is a pet peeve of mine when I am mid-sentence and the person I am talking with answers a phone or darts their eyes to check what the incoming beep was. They lose their attention and I lose my focus. It drives me mad.
And so, like most episodes on TED Radio Hour, it got me thinking...
When was the last time I really listened to someone? When was the last time you REALLY listened? Especially to clients.
Most entrepreneurs are hyperactive problem solvers--we listen to the client, identify the problem and then while they are still hashing out their thoughts or concerns our brain gears are fired up and in motion. Chances are we have the solution before the last words have left our clients' lips.
Great for the client if you are billing them by the minute. But hang on, did you really listen consciously? Did you hear the nuances? Did you join the client on their verbal journey and feel their pain or fear or confusion? Or are you already onto designing the implementation tactics to their problem in your mind?
According to Treasure, we can all be better listeners by using the acronym RASA (which means essence in Sanskrit). Taking his points for general active listening, I am looking at them through the lens of an entrepreneur and how we can apply the steps to our clients.
RECEIVE: Listen and receive the information fully.
APPRECIATE: While the speaker is sharing, appreciate their speech by making small subtle sounds of understanding or encouragement that you are following them.
SUMMARIZE: After you have listened, summarize what you took from that. Treasure suggests "so" is a key word to use.
ASK QUESTIONS: Ask to confirm your understanding or ask to get a bit deeper on the issue.
As Treasure says, conscious listening creates understanding and when we are connected in our understanding, we are connected to each other.
I am sure we would all love for our clients to walk away knowing that we fully listened to them and from that understood their problem and designed a viable and valuable solution through that understanding.
Clients aside, I think we could all benefit from stronger interpersonal connections in our lives and increase our understanding with each other, don't you?
It's a simple act and as Treasure says, listening is the best gift you can give another human being.