I like to ask business people questions. So here is today’s question:
What’s the most important thing you can do in your work day?
You may say:
- Closing more deals
- Customer service
- Having a great product or service people need
These are all good answers, but that’s not it. The most important thing you can do every day when you are at work or conducting business is listen.
Sounds simple enough, but is it?
We live in an interesting world these days. As Charles Dickens once said, “It is the best of times and the worst of times.” It is the best of times for discovering business opportunity. It is also an extremely challenging time because there is so much noise and clutter around us all day vying for our attention. We are exposed to 24 hour cable news channels, branding messages everywhere, music piped in everywhere you go, and being constantly connected to the world via mobile phones.
We live in very exciting times, but all the excitement doesn’t give us time to be quiet and to think or listen. Many have higher education degrees, but the one thing that is not taught in schools, at any level, is how to effectively listen. So we must teach ourselves to listen.
Every work day, it’s important to listen to our co-workers, customers, vendors, and service personnel. But because we are so busy with “stuff”, we often don’t hear what we need to hear. This, in turn, causes all sorts of work day business problems such as delayed projects, employees not getting the help they need to do a good job, and more stress than any of us need.
Think about it: How many times have you said, “If only I would have listened to…”
How Do You Begin to Improve Your Listening?
There are two ways.
1) Start by listening to yourself.
Find time every day to quiet your mind. That’s uninterrupted time. It can be for as little as 10-15 minutes. Turn everything off. Be in a quiet space. Write down what comes into your mind that can improve the work flow of your business day. Ninety percent of what you write may never get past the paper you write it on, but the other 10% could be quite valuable and productive.
2) Listen to others.
You’ll probably find this to be not as easy as it sounds. It requires a conscious effort on your part. But when you do, you will find your world will open up to looking at and understanding people in a different way. You will also find yourself doing things at work differently, more productively…and even putting a smile on your face – and others – all because you listened more.