There is a difference between listening and just waiting to speak. You can spot people doing either. Some people don’t listen at all, just are silent until they decide to speak. Other people may interrupt – how annoying! – but actually they may listen more than the silent and polite.
‘Interrupting’ has a cultural connotation. The conventional wisdom is that this is rude. And it is, in Anglo-Saxon context for sure. In other cultures, it is more normal and nobody sees it as disrespectful. Conversations overlap and people start talking when the other has not even finished the sentence. And in those countries, last time I checked, the sky was not falling.
After many years in organizational consulting, I can spot who is listening and who is not. The management team at the back of the meeting room, secluded from the rest of delegates, looking at their laptops/blackberries/iPhone and nodding and smiling, are not listening. Actually, this ‘show of support’ by being in the room ‘despite their busy schedules’, is a waste of time and an insult to the imagination. Their engagement has the strength of a cream cake.
Other politically incorrect ‘interrupters’, as much as they are a pain, may be listening big time and engaged fully.
Don’t judge listening by the amount of silence or the amount of interruptions. Suspend judgment. Get behind what you see and hear, what people do.
The test of listening is not what is not said but the meaningful conversation, or lack of, that follows in the room.
Next week is our first webinar from the Better Way Webinar Series
Design your organizational structures to create a Remarkable Organization for the future
The new Promised Land of the so-called ‘future of work’
We know that the new organization has to be very adaptable and flexible, beyond what it has been in the past, but what are the organizational principles that can lead to that? Is there a singular best model? Or, more importantly, can several possibly competing models coexist in one single organization? And, if so, what kind of management and leadership are to be reinvented?
Join us on 27th May at 1730 BST/1830 CET