• Create a listening environment. To improve your ability to listen and to understand, put yourself in an environment conducive to listening. For instance, where I work, our office space includes a cubicle “farm,” plus breakout rooms for individual and project team discussions. This serves two purposes: It allows a person or team to focus on their discussions, while also eliminating distractions for our fellow workers.
• Reflective listening. “Words have meaning, but only in context.” A mentor of mine told me that a long time ago. Simply translated — yes, you may have heard what was said, you may have read all that was written — but did you understand? Take the time to do some reflective listening so the meaning and message that was written or spoken is actually what was received. You'll be amazed that some/most misunderstandings occur because the meaning was lost in translation.
So the next time you are scheduling or responding to a request for a conversation, remember that what is most important is not how ardent you disseminate your message, but how effectively you listen.
Your Business Coach is a regular column produced by The Persimmon Group, an Oklahoma-based consulting firm that offers practical, results-oriented advice for business professionals of all disciplines and business owners across industries. This week's column is by TPG Consultant J. Bob Jones. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.