- I don’t care about you.
- I don’t understand you.
- You’re wrong.
- You’re stupid.
- You’re wasting my time.
- All of the above.
“My boss, co-worker, or direct report doesn’t listen” is one of the most common complaints I hear in my professional life. People will tolerate all sorts of rudeness, but listening holds a special place in their hearts – perhaps because it’s something all of us should be able to do with ease. After all, what does it take to keep our ears open, our eyes looking at whomever is talking, and our mouths shut?
The interesting thing about not listening is that, for the most part, it’s a silent, invisible activity. People rarely notice you doing it. You can be not listening because you’re bored, or distracted, or busy composing what you want to say.
People don’t usually actually see that you’re not listening to them unless you’re doing something to display extreme impatience. You want them to hurry up and get to the point so you can make yours. People notice that. They rarely think better of you for it.
When you find yourself mentally or literally drumming your fingers while someone else is talking, stop the drumming. Stop demonstrating impatience when you’re listening.
One more thing – it’s not just important to listen. It is important to look like your listening!
Has anyone ever given you an annoyed look and barked, “You’re not listening!” Let me guess. The answer is yes. What did you say next? Let me guess again. “What do you mean I’m not listening?” You then repeat everything that the person was saying in order to prove they were wrong. We do this constantly!
When this happens. even if we were listening. how much of an “I care about you” message are we sending to the other person? None. We may have been listening but we certainly didn’t look like we were caring!
The next time someone looks at you and says, “You’re not listening!” What are you going to say, “I’m sorry. There is no excuse. Please repeat what you just said, and I will try to do better.”
In August, I am hosting a free webinar series for the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches applicants! You will learn more about the 20 bad habits, like not listening, and other topics from my books, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Triggers. All are welcome to join!