Stop thinking when you're talking to the boss. Listen to him or her. Carefully. I'd like you to read the following article to tune in to a critical piece of strategy.
This article is from a newspaper advertising section out today, but the point it makes is really important:
The ability to be a good listener -- an underdeveloped skill for most -- can be an employee's most valuable asset in the workplace.
If you want to move up the corporate ladder, then you'd better improve your listening skills, says Don Sharp, president of Sales Concepts, Inc., based in Roswell, Ga. The most important thing you can do is ask questions and get answers.
There is a big difference between hearing and listening. The person who listens to co-workers, clients and others has an advantage.
We seem to think we get attention when we talk, but that's not really the
case, says Dr. Madelyn Burley-Allen, founder of the Dynamics of Human Behavior in Wimberley, Texas. Our listening skills get put on the back burner. But the good listener receives a lot of benefits.
Burley-Allen describes three levels of listening. The more developed a person's level of listening, the more aware and perceptive the person can be.
Level 3 listening is the lowest level characterized as an unconscious state of being, or an unawareness. A person comprehends only about 5 percent of a conversation, and often is plagued by misunderstandings, misinterpretations, negative feelings and fear.
At Level 2, there is still some unconsciousness, but the biggest barrier is semantics. According to Burley-Allen, there are more than 10,000 meanings for
the 500 words we use most often in the United States, which causes a lot of problems for both the listener and the talker.
Level 1 is the highest level with active listening allowing for mutual respect, trust-building, empathy, reaching for a higher level of intelligence and creative thinking. The employee who actively listens to his manager will be seen in a more positive light. He or she will be able to build a positive relationship and will be perceived as responsible and also a good communicator.
Sharp offers two key points for improvement.
First, you must want to listen,Ó Sharp says. ÒSecond, you have to feel that what the other person has to say is more important than what you have to say.
Burley-Allen says a person should always keep in mind what it feels like to be ignored. You can then make a commitment to listen. Also, keep in mind that it is difficult to remember without listening.
Memory and listening go hand-in-hand. If youÕre truly listening and do not understand something in the moment, be aware that youÕre not comprehending and ask questions, says Burley-Allen. Sharp agrees.
ÒMost people donÕt ask questions, they make assumptions. If you donÕt know exactly what a person means, ask. Open-ended, probing questions, like who, what, why, where, which and how, will get you answers, Sharp says. ÒRemember, a person can lose an order from talking too much, but no one ever loses a sale from listening too much.
To summarize in my lingo, if you're going to manage your manager, you have to understand his/her personality type, you have to put yourself in his/her shoes to the extent you can, and you have to understand with crystal clarity what he/she tells you in conversation.
So stop thinking and listen. I do this all the time. If I miss something because I drift away for a moment, I ask politely for it to be repeated so I'm sure I've got it. What you think when your boss is addressing you is of little importance. When asked what you think about some assignment or criticism you receive, you should respond by complimenting your boss on his/her insight and wisdom, and say you'll go right into action as directed because you're on the team, and that if you have any questions, you'll stop by for elaboration. Never give away your true feelings during a meeting with the boss unless you truly don't give a shit about your job, or he's your father.