Webinar report - The Art of Listening
‘Don’t ask if you have no intention of acting on what you hear’
To learn more about the art of listening, we joined the webinar, Know your audience, held by The Quorum Initiative, who kindly offered CLL a number of free places.
We live in a world where the competition to be heard gets more intense every day. This is true for employees and employers as well as brands, organisations and public service bodies.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that, sometimes, we can lose sight of a communication skill that’s every bit as valuable – perhaps more so - than speaking.
Listening is about much more than hearing. It requires a conscious effort on our part – and it pays off.
Leading the event was Helen Hannan Evans, Co-founder and Director of the webinar sponsor, The Listening People.
Helen is a business strategist with over 25 years’ experience in brand, marketing, communications and engagement gained at professional services firms including EY, Latham & Watkins and Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson). Hannah co-founded The Listening People in 2019 to help businesses build their brands from the inside out.
Why master the art of listening?
At its most basic level, listening is how we gain clarity about issues and people’s concerns. But the benefits don’t stop at simply avoiding misunderstandings. Deep listening is the basis of real engagement and emotional connections, not to mention faster and more meaningful outcomes from collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Done well in a professional services setting, listening can deliver a higher return on investment than many marketing and branding initiatives.
What does a great listener look like?
A good listener always pays attention to what you’re saying and shows this through their body language. A great listener goes further. Firstly, they take pains to create time, space and a safe environment for people to speak. Then they consciously tune out their inner thoughts and avoid the temptation to start thinking about their response before you finish speaking.
This temptation arises mainly because people typically speak at 125 words per minute, while our minds are capable of processing around 400 words per minute. With this spare mental capacity, a great listener will think about what they’re hearing, crystallise the key points and prepare questions to get a deeper understanding. Others not so practised in deep listening may lose patience and allow their minds to drift.
But crucially, a genuinely interested listener will never ask if they have no intention of acting on what they hear.
Acting on what you hear
Listening exercises can take many forms, depending on your goals and the level of access you have to your audience. Networking groups, employee questionnaires, social media and good old fashioned one-to-one chats over a coffee are common ways to learn what people are thinking and how they’re feeling. If your audience is large, it can help to develop personas. These are fictional characters that you can create to humanise common traits of a subset of your wider audience. By defining criteria such as attitudes, awareness in your subject area, triggers, pain points and key interests, you can fine-tune your approach to the subset by imagining it as a one-to-one interaction with a named individual.
From here, you can plan the action best suited to the needs of every type of person in your audience. All of which is possible through the art of listening.
To learn more about The Listening People, visit https://thelisteningpeople.com/
To learn more about The Quorum Initiative, visit https://www.thequoruminitiative.com/
For further reading about deep listening, visit https://www.oscartrimboli.com/