Effective Listening Produces Improved Results

The biggest part of your day whether working or otherwise, is spent communicating. The greatest percentage of your communication time is listening. In fact, 40% of our time involves listening.

What is the Cost of Poor Listening?
When I ask this question, the cost ranges from $15 to $100 per listening mistake. Assume you make one $15 listening mistake per week. $15 per mistake multiplied by 50 weeks comes to $750. Now, if you have 100 employees and each employee makes a $15 listening mistake per week the total comes to $75,000 per year. Increase the cost for poor listening to $100 per week per 100 employees and the cost rises to $500,000. Poor listening leads to misunderstandings, conflict, rework, and poor quality, which leads to unsatisfied patients and employees.

Benefits of Effective Listening
• Fewer misunderstandings
• Improved relationships
• Less frustration
• Higher productivity
• Reduced rework

Effective Listening Principles
• Show interest
• Make good eye contact
• Give undivided attention
• Refrain from interrupting
• Ask open ended questions
• Paraphrase and summarize
• Eliminate or reduce distractions
• Nod, lean forward, raise eyebrows, smile
• Do not judge or offer advice without being asked

Practice Effective Listening Principles
Listening is the most important communication skill. Many people are poor listeners. Since most people enjoy talking, it takes a real effort to practice the principles of effective listening until it becomes a habit.

Action Exercises
First, start asking good, open-ended questions of others in all conversation, especially when problems or difficulties arise. This shows interest and increases your understanding.

Second, relax and let the others talk more. Practice over and over until you become an effective listener.

How To Develop New Habits

In order to change deep-rooted habits, you must want to change. Desire is the key to success or failure in changing any behavior. Many management experts say that you can successfully change any habit if you consistently practice a new behavior for 21 days.

There are five steps to the process of replacing self-defeating habits with positive habits.

1. Think and Plan First

The more you know about what you do and why you do it, the easier it will be to identify the habits that are self-defeating. This means you must choose to reflect on the behaviors and the situations where the negative behavior occurs. Then and only then can you pinpoint the exact behavior you want to change.

Next, you need to examine what you believe about this behavior to determine if these beliefs are preventing you from achieving the change you desire.

2. Carefully Define the New Habit You Want to Develop

Use and action plan to record and describe the new behaviors you plan to adapt. Only by being honest with yourself and creating a realistic action plan, will you be able to change your behavior and develop new habits.

3. Begin the New Behavior as Strongly as Possible

Tell everyone about your new habit, especially those that will support you. Now, set-up a routine to accomplish your habit… put up signs to remind you of the new behaviors. Also, work to change your environment so the new habit will take root and grow.

4. Never Stray Form the Behavior Until the New Habit is Firmly Established

Part time behavior does not develop new habits – new behaviors come from consistent and persistent practice. You will be tempted many times to do things the “old way” – resist these temptations and ask for help. Do not rationalize the temptations by saying “Just this once won’t matter.” The truth is… every time you stray you must start over. The more times you start over the more difficult, it becomes until you give up.

5. Ask Other People to Help You Change

Few people make significant changes without the help of others. Think carefully about who you can trust to help you. How can they help you and what will you ask them to do? Building a strong support team around you makes new habits easier to accomplish.

Action Exercise

Start right now and choose one habit you want to change. Now follow the steps and 21 days later, you will have developed a new behavior that brings you the results you desire.

Adapted from Inscape Publishing’s Time Mastery Profile®