“Dad, you weren’t listening! We told you already.”
I’m a great listener. Well, at least that is what I originally thought. In reality, there are many times when I’m present in body, but absent in listening. The audio channel is working but my mind is tuning it out. In some conversations, I find my mind daydreaming, racing toward solutions, practical steps and action planning instead of hearing what is being said. Have you ever experienced that? Thankfully, I have three attentive daughters who make sure I know when that is happening.
Listening. It’s one of the core senses we have as humans, but do we use it well? In my conversations with businesses across the company and across the industry, they often cite that a key challenge working with “centralized shared services teams” is getting them to listen. I am often told things like, “They come to tell, but we wish they would come to listen.” When I probe that sentiment, it is very clear that the desire is to have the other party fully understand them. It isn’t just to recognize the words, concepts or thoughts, but to fully connect with their frame of reference. It is to intimately understand their challenges, their business needs, their priorities, passions, practices and people. By doing so, the help that the central team offers is more relevant, effective and wanted. In the end, they want to be heard and understood. Isn’t that what we all want?
In a recent call with our CIO, she challenged us all to pick a “focus word” for 2023. For me, on both a personal and professional level, I picked the word “listen.” I want to improve my ability to hear with understanding. And I want to champion and expand my team’s ability to “listen” and help the businesses we support.
We know there are challenges ahead. I anticipate a great deal of flux with new demands across the globe, new opportunities, new adventures and new perspectives. The ability and focus on intentional “listening” will be a superpower to help us all succeed. And, yes, my daughters will be happier too.