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Action Tip

Listen very carefully

Listening is an art, not an exact science. No ready-made formula can replace your openness to others, or your desire to discover what they have to tell you. However, you can create the right conditions for listening — and be aware of avoidable pitfalls.

1/ Create a good environment for talking

Before starting a conversation, make sure the conditions are right for it to take place — ones in which you will be able to really listen:

Avoid noisy, open-space environments, with lots of people coming and going.Opt instead for a meeting room or a quiet office. Perhaps you could even go outside, if that’s a possibility. Some people are better at talking and listening when they are walking.

If you can’t have a face-to-face dialogue, try a phone call rather than emails and texting — these don’t let you hear the tone of voice, and the tone of voice can tell you a lot.

Know and set your limits. You can’t listen to everyone all the time. You risk hitting a saturation point. Determine the people you need to speak with most and what availability you have, and communicate this clearly.

Make your colleagues aware of any hearing difficulties. Hearing loss is very common, even at a young age, but often goes unnoticed, leading to awkwardness and misunderstandings.

2/ Forget the pre-formed ideas you may have about others

Excerpt from Business Digest N°304, March 2020

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Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.