Listening Is Essential to Communication
âTo listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversationâ –Chinese Proverb
Last week, I got a chance to talk with Patrick Rooney, of the ZÃ³calo Group in Chicago. As we discussed social media, Patrick discussed the perspective of corporate clients moving into the social media space now. He made a powerful point about how some corporate clients are slow to enter social media because they perceive bloggers as having no forgiveness for mistakes they might make. [not a direct quote]
Patrick and I talked about the digital divide that needs closing. the stereotypes in both directions: a bunch of undisciplined bloggers and social media rockstars who don’t like companies and a bunch of uptight, uppity corporate folks who think they know more than everything. We discussed opportunities to get some conversations started. I told him about the barns and bridges project. We made some plans to move things forward.
It seems so easy. All we had to was introduce them and get them talking and listening. Listening is the crucial part.
Influence and Participation Above the Noise
If you want to make a deal or a partnership, build a bridge, or solve a conflict, listening is the way in. If we don’t listen to what people believe, what they need, or what their goals are, how could we have their best interests in mind?
Listening is influence. A good listener has the power to change conduct, thought, or decisions, by encouraging discussions to go deeper, thoughts to get bigger, and people to raise their ideas above the noise.
Listening is participation. Great listeners are involved and thinking. That’s how we connect with other people’s ideas and values. Active listening helps us find the places where our minds meet and understand the places where our ideas separate. Here are just a few ways that listening enhances influence through participation.
- is learning
- demonstrates respect which builds reputation
- allows us to learn about and improve ourselves and our ability to connect with others
- gathers information about how people perceive things, making their actions more predictable and increasing our ability to communicate in “their language.”
- offers attention which opens channels to more information
- collects data on which to test and build goals and strategy
- uncovers issues and opportunities
- invites new ideas which influence future actions
- sparks new dialogues which lead to deeper relationships
- allows people to get to know, like, and trust us at their own speed
- allows us to find places where our goals align with possible partners
We talk, teach, tell people what we think and walk away feeling we’ve had an influence. Have we really? The folks we’re addressing could be ignoring every word we say and smiling while they do so.
If we want to form effective partnerships — raise barns and build bridges — we have to understand what the other guy cares about, where he or she is going and which of our goals match well alongside those. Listening tunes us in to potential partners.
Listen gives us direction and purpose in any collaboration. When we listen first, we make better choices about what we say and how we say it. Our voices become more powerful.
. . . it’s the listening that separates Social Media experts from Social Media theorists. said Brian Solis
Has social media changed the way you listen? How would you explain listening online to someone who’s new here?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!
Some Listening Resources:
Chris Brogan offers a slew of advice on how to listen.
Conversations are happening online in all kinds of places. Itâs important to understand how to get in there, and how to listen where the conversations are happening. Hereâs a very impartial list of places to listen and how.
Once you’re through Chris’ list, here’s a Starter List of a few more Web 2.0 Social Tools.
Some new new tools that help us tune in include:
monitter, which allows you to follow conversations by keywordyacktrack which allows you to track a single term or a url, social mention which searches across 8 web media formats
Todd Smith says
Great point, Liz. Broadcasting is not the same as listening, is it?
I find when I’m talking more than my interlocuteur is, it’s time for me to be quiet and let them take the floor, this seems to keep them coming back for more.
ME Liz Strauss says
Broadcasting isn’t even talking… 🙂
ME Liz Strauss says
One I forgot to include in the list … listening gives us lots to blog about. I’m listening different offline because of what I’ve learned online. 🙂
Kathy @ Virtual Impax says
Liz – YOU ARE AMAZING!!! (As always!)
I really have to “work” at commenting because – in cases like this blog post – it’s so easy to just “listen”.
However, this comment has a purpose and that is to THANK YOU for the resources you “slipped” in at the end. Monittor is AMAZING!
Richard Reeve says
One of my goals, which to this point I’ve managed to keep, is: respond to all messages, even if just a “thanks”, or a “is that so.” Now I realize is scale increases, 100% compliance may not be possible, but the posture toward others can remain even if it becomes too much to participate with all the threads…
(one exception, I tend not to respond to auto-messages from new follower…maybe I should take a look at that?)
ME Liz Strauss says
Thanks, it’s hard to bring together so much information and instigate a conversation too. I’m working on that. 🙂
Glad you found that short list of resources helpful!
ME Liz Strauss says
I find absolutely nothing wrong with not having time to talk to an automatic message. I don’t talk to voice mail messages either.
I like how you put your thoughts “keep the posture.” Yes. 🙂
Richard McInnis says
What a great post, you hit it dead on. I work with both agencies and corporations daily that are now entering the world of social media and realizing the importance of listening and the valuable resource it can be for all aspects of their business. Posts like this help convey that message increase the awareness of listening.
Hope to see you in SXSW again this year.