Seek to Understand
Entrepreneurs are good Listener. They can hear even which is not yet uttered leading to empathy and understanding.
Understanding the Need of Masses: Sudhir Hasija
It was an appetite for meeting the need of the mass population that prompted Sudhir Hasija to forsake a thriving business distributing mobile handsets to launch his own brand of phones. This year Karbonn, as the three-year-old company notches up turnover of Rs 1,200 crore, the benefit of listening to the customer is paying off handsomely for a brand that popularised the dual SIM concept amongst Indian mobilephone users. Since its inception in 2009, Karbonn Mobiles has made an effort to enter the lives of those thousands of people who have wished to own a mobile brand to make their lives simpler, but couldn’t afford owing to high costs. It is in here, that in a short span of time, Karbonn Mobiles has become an established name in the Indian mobile phone market with its wide array of attractively priced multimedia phones and feature rich Smartphones. In the words of Economic Times, “Karbonn Mobiles has in a short time become one of the leading mobile brands in India. Being an indigenous entity, it feels good to see them taking the competition to the competitors with their gamut of innovative products at a pocket-friendly price range which is a sure shot prosperity sign of the times to come.”
Communication is the most important skill in life. We spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening? What training do we undergo to enable us to listen so that we really, deeply understand another human being? Probably none, right?
Like most people, we probably seek first to be understood; to get our point across. And in doing so, we ignore the other person completely, pretending that we’re listening, selectively hearing only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focusing on only the words being said, but missing the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? It happens because we listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. We prepare in our mind what we are going to say, the questions we are going to ask, etc. We filter everything we hear through our life experiences, our frame of reference. We listen passively deciding prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating. Do any of the following sound familiar?
Because we so often listen without paying attention, we tend to respond in one of four ways:
|Evaluating:||We judge and then either agree or disagree.|
|Probing:||We ask questions from your own frame of reference.|
|Advising:||We give counsel, advice, and solutions to problems.|
|Interpreting:||We analyze others’ motives and behaviors based on your own experiences.|
The 10 Principles of Listening
A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left unsaid or only partially said. Effective listening involves observing body language and noticing inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages. Here are 10 tips to aid in effective listening.
1. Stop Talking
“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.
Don’t talk, listen. When somebody else is talking listen to what they are saying, do not interrupt, talk over them or finish their sentences for them. Stop, just listen. When the other person has finished talking you may need to clarify to ensure you have received their message accurately.
2. Prepare Yourself to Listen
Relax. Focus on the speaker. Put other things out of mind. The human mind is easily distracted by other thoughts – what’s for lunch, what time do I need to leave to catch my train, is it going to rain – try to put other thoughts out of mind and concentrate on the messages that are being communicated.
3. Put the Speaker at Ease
Help the speaker to feel free to speak. Remember their needs and concerns. Nod or use other gestures or words to encourage them to continue. Maintain eye contact but don’t stare – show you are listening and understanding what is being said.
4. Remove Distractions
Focus on what is being said: don’t doodle, shuffle papers, look out the window, pick your fingernails or similar. Avoid unnecessary interruptions. These behaviours disrupt the listening process and send messages to the speaker that you are bored or distracted.
Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Look at issues from their perspective. Let go of preconceived ideas. By having an open mind we can more fully empathise with the speaker. If the speaker says something that you disagree with then wait and construct an argument to counter what is said but keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.
6. Be Patient
A pause, even a long pause, does not necessarily mean that the speaker has finished. Be patient and let the speaker continue in their own time, sometimes it takes time to formulate what to say and how to say it. Never interrupt or finish a sentence for someone.
7. Avoid Personal Prejudice
Try to be impartial. Don’t become irritated and don’t let the person’s habits or mannerisms distract you from what they are really saying. Everybody has a different way of speaking – some people are for example more nervous or shy than others, some have regional accents or make excessive arm movements, some people like to pace whilst talking – others like to sit still. Focus on what is being said and try to ignore styles of delivery.
8. Listen to the Tone
Volume and tone both add to what someone is saying. A good speaker will use both volume and tone to their advantage to keep an audience attentive; everybody will use pitch, tone and volume of voice in certain situations – let these help you to understand the emphasis of what is being said.
9. Listen for Ideas – Not Just Words
You need to get the whole picture, not just isolated bits and pieces. Maybe one of the most difficult aspects of listening is the ability to link together pieces of information to reveal the ideas of others. With proper concentration, letting go of distractions, and focus this becomes easier.
10. Wait and Watch for Non-Verbal Communication
Gestures, facial expressions, and eye-movements can all be important. We don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes – watch and pick up the additional information being transmitted via non-verbal communication.
As an entrepreneur, effective listening involves listening with the intent to understand. It is free from biased judgments. It is as important to listen, as to speak.