How important does listening affect your influence?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

When you are overwhelmed with things that happen in your life, how do you refocus? One of the things that is the hardest things to do but yet very easy is the act of listening. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) states, “By becoming better listeners, we will improve our productivity, as well as our ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. More importantly, we’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings in the workplace. When we engage in conversation, it is critical for us to give our undivided attention.”

I argue that by becoming better listeners, we improve every aspect of our lives: home, work and play. So how is it that this act of listening then becomes a habit? Listening is a special act of progression towards being habitual. It is only one part of communication but it may be the most important.Take time to personally refocus by listening. Listen to an audio book, audio blog, or just listen to some calm music. You have to be the one in control. What ever you listen to, stay objective, have no bias, clear your mind, your thoughts, be receptive.

Many of the people I know are in some form of customer service. Even if you aren’t in the formal form of customer service where you might be providing a direct service to the customer like bringing their dinner to the table in the form of a waiter, or taking their money in the form of a cashier, you might be in construction where you have a customer that you may never see, or a dentist who fixes teeth, or many other jobs. Everyone is a customer and most people take care of a customer. So why is it that when you are a customer at a fast food restaurant, you sometimes do not get the right order.

Maybe the person who heard your order wasn’t actually listening. So if we have the ability to influence other people just by listening, why then do we not take it more seriously? I had the opportunity to experience having the wrong order just the other night. I wanted to order a piece of chocolate cake. What did I get? Chocolate yes, but chocolate chip cookies. I got home and the cookies were there but not the cake. What am I talking about? I didn’t order the cookies.

Being positive is the first response to the negative action. I went back that evening and asked the cashier for a cake. I had already called about it and really wasn’t mad. I did however need to make sure that the management knew about the situation so that training could be done if that was the choice. Some days are more difficult than others and I had my share of difficulty that day. My attitude over the fact that the cashier wasn’t listening and wasn’t paying attention to me as a customer remained positive as I couldn’t deal with anymore negativity anyway. It’s difficult to always be positive and motivated, but when you motivate yourself. If you concentrate on making yourself better time after time, you then are the catalyst of change. Staying positive allows you to rethink many situations you encounter. You have the ability through your actions to become influential for others.

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