Are You Listening?

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Worries abound. We worry about the state of the world; we worry about batteries running low and we worry about keeping up with all the new shows on Netflix. To add to the big list of worries, we are now concerned about who might be listening to us. Alexa is often accused of listening to more than our commands to turn on the music.  Even without Alexa in the room there are mysteries.  Ever mention some thing like, “Someday I want to go to Paris for a long vacation”? Then, for the rest of the year you are barraged with ads about airfare and hotels in France? We have long known that our cell phones are little broadcasting devices that give away our location and maybe our thoughts to every retailer we walk by. And don’t get me started on the aliens in space and their tricks on listening to us.

The irony of all the listening is that too often the people and organizations we want to hear us are not listening.  Leaders need to listen more to their supporters and to those who are less supportive. Our bosses need to listen more and not just selectively to what they want to hear.  Where there is a workplace with people who listen, there are happier people.

More than one company I know conducted all-employee surveys to measure the attitudes and perspectives of the people. Once the surveys were complete, the results were so bad that no results were ever presented back to employees. In effect, the comments and feelings of those who completed surveys and poured out their hearts were ignored. The silence regarding communicating the findings of the survey only exacerbated the sense that no one listens, no one cares. Major turnover problems ensued. Why bother to ask for opinions if there is not any intent to do anything about what is heard?

Communication, or the lack thereof is almost always the number one issue in a workplace. People want to know what is going on and how they can make things better. Listening is not a passive activity, it is a key element in making a healthy workplace.

We all need to listen more. Listening is a skill that can be developed if it doesn’t come naturally. More than listening, we need to hear what others say especially if their views are from different backgrounds and perspectives. If we heard more we could do more to improve work and the relationships there. 

What do you think could improve workplace communication?

Hello? Are you listening?

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