If there's anything that can start to get me upset, it's constantly being interrupted when I'm talking. I don't mean when someone is looking to clarify something I said, necessarily. I mean when you're trying to say something, or ask a question, and the other person interrupts me to start answering a question I haven't finished asking, or throwing in detail that I haven't had a change to give yet. I think it's rude, but it also proves something else.

Many of us have lost the art of listening. Studies have shown that most people are usually ready to respond to the first few words a person has said and are already working on their response while a person is still saying their piece. This means that, quite often, we miss out on something that might have made our responses more pertinent, and oftentimes people end up either asking someone to repeat what was just said, or giving an answer to a question that wasn't really asked, confusing everyone.

I came across something like that this week while out of town. In essence, I learned that the people where I am have been doing something for close to seven years that they never had to do. My supposition is that someone mentioned something way back when that someone else decided to run with, then they went to clarify what they'd been told and either asked the question incorrectly or the person answering the question either didn't wait to hear the whole question or decided to just answer the question that was asked without further probing. This has caused my client to lose a lot of money over the years doing something that they never should have done in the first place.

I'm a pretty good listener, but I'll admit that there are times when I'm not quite understanding what I'm being told. The art of communications says that sometimes it's not the listener's fault, but the listener always has the opportunity to ask for clarification if they're not sure what the other person said, or is having trouble comprehending it. That happened to me today, where I had someone tell me three times what she was told to do some time ago, and the third time she changed it up slightly and I finally got it. I was listening hard, but her terminology and phraseology wasn't jibbing with mine, which was leaving me confused. That happens sometimes when you're in another state and realizing that different words are often used for the same thing.

Of course, if I hadn't been listening, I wouldn't have known to ask her to say it again, and the answer I eventually gave her wouldn't have been close to correct. Listening always gives you a chance to get things right, and it makes the person you're listening to feel as though they're a valuable commodity in their eyes. Good leaders and managers have mastered the art of listening.

Of course my wife will tell you that I don't always listen to her. Sure I do; I just don't always understand her! 🙂