2020-04-13 Issue 142 – Fundamental Behavior 15 – Listen to understand
My husband calls me “the interrupter.” I have a bad habit of interrupting people while they speak. (At least I know I do it and try very hard not to do it now.) I am not trying to be rude. I just get very excited about a conversation and want to add to it. I also don’t want to forget my perfect point to add to your story.
This week’s Fundamental Behavior says listening is more than simply “not speaking,” it is giving others your undivided attention and being present and engaged. That is so true. I actively try to be present in conversations – it can be hard, especially with so many distractions and constant external demands. Being present means putting my phone down and not checking it while others are speaking to me. I also think giving someone your undivided attention in a conversation is a sign of respect – respect of their opinions and time. Nothing infuriates me more than someone distracted by or checking their device in the middle of a conversation. Perhaps that person is great at multitasking and hears everything I am saying, but that isn’t the message they are conveying. It conveys that someone else is more important than me at that moment. And, while that may be very true, it is rude.
Also, when you focus 100% of your attention on someone, you can pick up on things like body language, tone, and other nonverbal cues. There are many studies on nonverbal communications. One concluded that the interpretation of a message is 7% verbal, 38% vocal and 55 % visual. That means that 93% percent of communication is “nonverbal” in nature. Imagine what you miss if you are not present in a conversation! Obviously, body movements, tone, facial queues, etc. can tell you a lot more of the conversation than the words spoken.
So, let me conclude by using this write-up as an opportunity for a Company-wide apology. If I have interrupted you (or know other people who have), I (we) are sorry! I (we) are working on it. And I think I (we) will be working on it for a long time. But, this is also a promise to listen – and I hope all of you challenge yourself to do the same.
Director and Senior Counsel – Employment and Latin America
YKK Corporation of America