Real focus is not an easy task. As a golfer, focusing on the task at hand and completely removing the rest of the world from your thoughts is extremely difficult. However, to play well and competitively, you HAVE to do it. There is no getting around it. In business, sometimes we get so comfortable with our surroundings that true focus is easily lost. How many times have we “multi-tasked” while on a conference call? Our second nature, allows us to make comments or participate in a conversation, but should you remove the rest of the world and truly focus, our level of success or achievement increases.
Now, how many times have we been told by someone, “I hear what you’re saying…” but we can’t help but wonder if they are really “listening” to us? In an article “The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills” Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell explains that, hearing something can be accidental or involuntary, but voluntary listening involves focus and concentration for the purpose of understanding and learning from the individual who is speaking to us. So, if we as individuals are able to tell when someone is not really listening to us, more than likely our customers and co-workers are able to, as well.
Many business professionals consider listening to be an important skill that needs considerable practice in order to help avoid the many obstacles that can prevent us from focusing on what a speaker has to say. When you think of the many distractions that surround us each day, learning how to improve the ability to focus your full attention on the speaker and listen critically will help you to provide helpful solutions. This also expresses to the speaker that they have your full attention, which in turn should foster stronger partner and customer relationships.
According to the article “How Listening Can Improve Workplace Performance”, concentrating on improving listening skills at work should provide the following benefits:
- Good listeners are more likely to reduce misunderstandings
- Good listeners illustrate a caring attitude
- Good listeners tend to experience a faster work rate in accomplishing tasks
- Good listeners tend to make less mistakes
Email, social networking, and text messaging have become accepted forms of communication for people and businesses all over the world. These convenient online methods have augmented the way we communicate with each other. While much of the world is communicating through smart devices and social media, many feel that it also has the potential to diminish our verbal and listening skills if allowed. Through awareness and practice, improving our ability to listen to our coworkers, partners and customers will assist us and our organization to come out ahead as many businesses and consumers still value the importance and benefits of quality listening skills.