There's no getting away from it, in business we spend an enormous amount of time communicating – with suppliers, customers, staff, enquirers – the list seems endless. It may be a surprise to know that we spend approximately 70% of our time communicating with others. Of this time, we spend:
The Listening Dilemma
• We speak at a rate of about 150 words per minute (wpm).
• But we can hear at a rate of about 1,000 wpm.
This gives us a lot of extra time! What we do with it – daydream, think about other things, doodle?
It's a very natural activity, one we don't normally think about, but are we any good at it and why do we need to think about that at all? It's all about sending and receiving messages correctly, which is important in all walks of life, but especially in business.
Sending the right message
How often do people complain that someone 'hadn't listened'; 'didn't do what they were asked'; 'got the wrong end of the stick'? In all those situations it is more than likely the message wasn't sent in the right way, or there may have been outside factors that got in the way, such as noise, jargon, the language or even their mood.
So how to get the message across in the right way? It helps to be clear about what the message is to achieve – is it an instruction, asking for or reporting something? Common faults are over-complicating the message and adding irrelevant detail. So, keep it simple and to the point.
Think about the person who will hear the message. How easily will they be able to understand it? What is the best way to make sure they understand? The Listening Tips below can also be used to check that a message has been sent correctly- can the 'receiver' paraphrase it, repeat it or have they any questions?
• Paraphrase the message to the speaker to confirm your understanding.
• Repeat the message to help you remember what was said.
• Probe for missing information.
• Clarify any points that you do not completely understand
Listening – an essential skill for all business owners.
It was noted above that we listen at about 1,000 words a minute. But how much do we actually hear? We communicate on Three Levels:
1 Vocabulary = 7% of what we communicate
2 Voice Inflections = 38%
3 Nonverbal Behaviour = 55%
One thing everyone does is guess or anticipate what is going to be said next, or what the speaker means. It's one of the reasons for not getting it right, such as following instructions.
Really 'hearing' what someone is saying takes concentration and is proactive.