management blog - the importance of listening to understand
All managers are required to listen to others; this could be a member of staff with a particular issue or concern. It could be a customer with a complaint. The reality is we are all going to be involved in listening to other people. When we are listening to people, it is easy not to listen. Most people listen for one reason, to respond. Think about this when you’re in conversation with someone; you're thinking about how you are going to respond, and if you’re doing this (and we all do) then the question has to be, are you not listening.
When we listen to understand it is a different process. We aren’t trying to win an argument; we aren’t trying to get our point across in the best possible way, we aren’t trying to get the other person to realise they are wrong. We aren’t listening to be able to come out with an answer.
When we are really listening to what the other person is saying, we are listening for one reason. To fully understand.
This is a tough concept to get your head around, and most people struggle to understand it in the first instance fully, but it is vital. Think about it, if we don’t understand then how can we help effectively?
Remember listen to understand, not to answer. Once you get this, it is a life-changing moment. Moreover, when people are communicating to you appreciate you are listening, really listening not just nodding your head in agreement! They will be more comfortable with you, and well, everyone wins.
We cover this further on our essential management skills and coaching skills for managers courses. You will learn skills and techniques on how to listen to others.