Quickly Increase your Performance

Quickly Increase your Performance 150 150 Sharon Smith

You have likely lost sleep at some point in your career trying to figure out what you could do to increase your performance at work or the performance of your team. If you are a leader with high ambition and big goals, it makes sense that you have given this a lot of thought.

I want to talk about one key skill that you can apply immediately to increase your own performance or help your team apply it for maximum results. You don’t need to buy anything, log onto anything, or spend time reading technical manuals. All you need to do is listen.

That’s right I’m talking about improving your listening skill as a way to increase your performance.

Ineffective listening is the cause of many breakdowns between co-workers, teams, and companies as well as the cause of many accidents. With ineffective listening instructions get missed, production decreases, sales and customers are lost, and personality clashes create poor morale.

When you are in a conversation are you more focused on talking or listening? We often forget that there are two parts of communicating, one is talking and the other is listening and in all actuality listening is the more important of the two components.

Poor listening habits can often be attributed to a lack of training and like any skill, listening can be learned, practiced, and mastered.

When you communicate through focused listening you build better relationships that will help take you personally and professionally to the next level of your success. When you want to make an important sale you have to know your client or customer, what their problems are and then communicate how you can solve their problem. Without listening you are going to miss out on the key facts you need to build that relationship and make the sale. Your client does not want to hear you talk about you and how great you are, they want you to listen to them and tell them how you can fix their problems.

The same is true for listening to your co-workers and team members; you have to know who they are in order to help motivate them to work the long hours on the priority project or to go above and beyond for the client. When you listen to those you work with you understand what drives them and that allows you to create stronger teams and more loyal employees. You know that turnover is very costly and this is one aspect of retaining employees, letting them know you are listening and that you care about them through your actions, which start with listening.

When your intent in communicating is all about what you are going to say next, you are not truly listening. I know you are conscious of how rude it is to interrupt another person while having a conversation and if you are thinking to yourself during the same conversation “what am I going to say next,” you are in effect doing the same thing. You did interrupt them because you were not listening, so what they just said may as well not been said since you didn’t hear it.

This makes listening the key step to a good conversation and even more importantly a tough conversation. You want to listen to understand, listen to gather information, and listen with no interruption (audibly or in your head.)

Once you have listened and heard what the other person is telling you, then you have the opportunity to talk. But your turn to talk means clarifying what they have said, making sure they know you heard them, and confirming what they want and need.

The goal of most communication should be to have the other person do more of the talking while you guide the conversation with open-ended questions that are meant to be clarifying and compassionate. When you have clarified everything you can then ask them “do you mind if I share with you my thoughts on this situation?” Most likely they are ready to hear your thoughts because you took the time to listen and they felt heard. At this point they really do want to know what you think.

You can also let them feel heard by saying “I hear that this is stressful for you and that makes sense based on what you told me…..” Get their confirmation that you hard them correctly and ask if you can share some ideas that might help. They are ready to hear what you have to share because they appreciate the time you took to really hear them even if what you have to share is not good news.

The other thing to remember is that what you say is important, but how you say it is just as important if not more important. People will remember how you made them feel long after they have forgotten what you actually said. If you can remain calm and compassionate they are going to feel it and appreciate you.

Next time someone comes to you with a problem or an idea make sure you are ready to fully listen and if it’s not a time where you can give them your undivided attention tell them that. Say “now is not a good time for me to be fully present, can we schedule some time later today or tomorrow?” Let them know what they have to say is important and you want to be sure you are fully present to hear them. Remember people want to be heard and they will appreciate this, which goes a long way with clients and employees.

Not only will this help improve your performance as you start to hear more ideas around you, it will create bonds with those who need and want your services.


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