YOUR MAGICAL LISTENING TOUR

YOUR MAGICAL LISTENING TOUR

The art of listening (and it is an art) is not practiced all that much anymore. “Already knowing” seems to have taken over – taken over our business lives, our social lives, our conversations with everyone from our colleagues and teammates, to our bosses, our husbands or wives or lovers…to our children. And God knows, it’s taken over our politicians…

“Telling” seems to have uh, “trumped,” “asking.” “Discovering” (which has always been part of the kick in life) is well, pretty much missing. And think of the pressure we put on ourselves! We’ve got to walk into just about anywhere with all the answers; we’ve got to be the smartest person in the room…any room…all the time. Or at least sound like it. (It makes me want to lie down just thinking about it…) 

Remember in good ol’ 1999 when Hillary, prior to running for the Senate, went on a “listening tour” across New York State? It was a tremendous hit. She softened her image and showed that she cared about a range of issues of concern to voters…and wanted to learn more about them. “Thank you for explaining that to me!” was her typical response. She turned what could have been a close election into one that she won comfortably…

Even Rudy Giuliani was admiring of her approach. “Exploring is a good thing,” he said. “Who could have anything against exploring? Or listening?”

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to be considering running for the Senate (or President of the United States) to glean the incredible benefits of a “listening tour.” Maybe you’re starting a new job, or you’ve been given a new assignment in your “old” company, or maybe you’ve been out of the office for an extended period of time on sabbatical, or on maternity leave…or whatever. You don’t have to walk in as the “expert.” In fact, don’t! Walk in as a “committed student.” Show how much you care by how hard you listen.

Here are a few simple recommendations…

If you’ve been given a new assignment or are starting a new job in a new company (maybe even in a new industry) chances are you were selected not only because of what you “know” - your past experience – but because of your commitment to helping your company live up to its new possibilities – and because you come across as someone who not only can “learn,” but has a passion for it. Show that passion by listening and learning - in your orientation meetings, in casual conversations with your new colleagues – every chance you get. Write down what you learn: your insights, what excites you, where you can add value. You may never again be as objective, observant or insightful as you are at this moment. Embrace it. You’ll use these insights for years to come.

If you’ve come back to work after a leave of absence, the same approach applies.Use your “listening tour” to discover what’s changed, what new challenges and opportunities there are, what your team or your colleagues are excited or worried about - now. Think of these conversations as “benevolent interviews” and use the “tell me more” approach as often as you can. You’ll find that armed with your fresh perspective and propelled by your zeal to bring new value to a new time - you’ll be knocked out by how energizing and enlightening your re-entry is.

And don’t relegate these techniques just to your professional life. I bet your family and friends would love you to lend them your ear, too. Saying, “Wow, tell me more!” to your kids could light them right up…

Want to make some magic? Start listening.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  

- Winston Churchill

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