July 23, 2013

Are You A Good Listener In Your Glass Business?

By Paul Bieber

Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens and then everybody disagrees. — Will Rogers

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening. — Dorothy Sarnoff

The Good Lord gave each of us two ears and one mouth; this is to make sure we listen twice as much as we talk. — Old folk saying

Now that you are “listening”, let’s talk about listening, and your role as a leader or manager in the glass industry.  Listening is a skill that you can develop and improve upon, and ,by being a good listener, you and your company will absolutely benefit.  You will learn more about what is happening, your empoyees will be more open with you when they can see you listen to their thoughts and your customers, vendors and other stake holders will be glad that you are the person they turn to in dealing with your company.

Here are some basic tips to becoming a good listener:

  • Look directly at the speaker’s eyes.  Don’t let your eyes wander to another person or to a computer or phone screen.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker with any criticism during his turn to speak.  If you are having a good conversation, both of you will get your chance to speak.
  • Rephrase some of the thoughts of the speaker to make sure you are hearing what the speaker is really saying.  Like this…”I understand your position on  XYZ is this…….”  If it is, the speaker will be glad that you heard what was being said; if it is different, then it’s better to catch this now rather than later into the conversation.
  • Never get into a heated argument.  Let the speaker shout if that’s what he wants.  You take the high road and calmly say that you should talk tomorrow when he has calmed down.  The loudest person seldom wins in any argument.
  • Show empathy when listening.  Understand where the speaker is coming from.  You may not agree and you don’t have to agree. 
  • If the person requesting to speak with you doesn’t have the language skills needed for a good conversation, get someone to act as an interpreter.  Ensure the translator knows to translate exactly as being spoken, in both directions of the conversation.  The content of the conversation is more important than the style.  Don’t look down on someone who doesn’t speak your language!
  • If your time is limited, say that right at the beginning of the conversation.  Give the speaker this fact so it doesn’t look like you are cutting off the conversation at mid-point. 
  • You can set the rules for this and any conversation.  If someone comes up to you without notice, ask him to visit your office at a specified time, allowing you to have an uninterrupted or private conversation if that is needed.

Being polite is important to everyone with whom you come into contact.  You don’t have to agree, but good listening and courtesy will win you loyal customers, vendors and employees.

And now for some special news.  My new book, Solutions To Everyday Business Problems, is at the printer and should be available in a couple of weeks.  A further update will be out next Tuesday.