Community is integral to the success of our business at KAT. The stronger we can make our individual relationships with our guests and fellow staff members, the stronger our community is overall. We have discussed what it means to be a positive member of the community by avoiding complaining and gossip, but there are also things you can consciously add to your behaviour to build stronger relationships. One of these additive traits is to listen sincerely. Sincere listening matters because it is a simple and meaningful way to show people you care and that you are invested in connecting with them. Paying attention to people is an important element of respect. We all know the experience of feeling ignored, interrupted, or just getting the impression what you are saying just isn’t getting through. Treat others the way you would like to be treated!
Like anything else, being a good listener takes practice. Here are some ways you can improve your listening skills:
1. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
· There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is taking something in on a surface level. To listen effectively, you must be intellectually and emotionally connected to the person who is speaking. You can maybe hear something when you are doing something else, but it is very hard to listen.
· Many of us will start doing other things while people are speaking without even noticing it. When someone is sharing something with you, try to stop any other tasks. Look at people when they speak. Don’t look at your phone, around the room, or at anything else. Give them your full attention.
2. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS OR FILL IN THE BLANKS
· Never interrupt!
· Don’t stop listening when you think you “got the idea.”
· When you respond, try not to jump to conclusions. If you are unclear about something, ask.
· If you think you are getting a different or deeper meaning from someone’s words, tell them what you are thinking, and ask if you are right. Let them explain or elaborate if they want to.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID OF SILENCE
· Many of us use the time someone is speaking to formulate our responses. Instead, be patient. Wait until they are finished speaking before you even begin to think about your response.
· Moments of silence may feel awkward, but they actually show someone that you are seriously considering what they just said.
4. RECOGNIZE EVERY INTERACTION AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
· Only ask questions that you care to know the response for. When you ask someone about their day, or how they are feeling, make sure that this is information you are interested in receiving. This may mean asking more thoughtful questions.
“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.” -Larry King
5. RECOGNIZE EVERY INTERACTION AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
· Listening is a great way to show that you care.
· When you demonstrate that you are a thoughtful listener, people are more likely to open up to you.
· When you consistently give people your full attention, they are more likely to respond in kind.