The 10 Plan A Commandments: Learn to Listen & Listen to Learn

I’ve been working on a blog series that highlights our Plan A Commandments. Learning to listen and listening to learn is an important part of our Plan A culture; in fact, it is one of our commandments – a group of values that we devised that support and drive our culture.

When you’re in conversation with someone do you really listen? Do you completely hear everything? Do you hear every part of their message? The passion, the honesty, the body language, the tone? Everything that contributes to the message someone is trying to convey?

When we learn to listen, we pick up on so much more than what is being said. When we learn to listen, we can learn so much. Instead of thinking of a response, thinking to what is next on the to-do list or jumping in to provide your own comments or thoughts try listening – fully and completely.

Pet peeve alert! Let me set the scene: Recently, I was at an engagement which gathered a group of friends which lead to some great conversations. On a few occasions I witnessed interruptions which caused the speaker to lose their train of thought, resulting in his message not being relayed to the group. It was frustrating to observe as I am sure it was equally frustrating for the person speaking.

If you have some difficulty with respect to active, attentive listening, here are some tips:

  1. Don’t interrupt. Let a speaker finish their thought before jumping in with your comments or opinions.
  2. Be attentive. Remove distractions and maintain eye contact, provide cues like nodding your head yes as they speak and you understand.
  3. Take notes. If you are receiving directives from a leader, manager, or colleague, it is important for you to remember, and later recall, the information. Advise the speaker that you will jot down notes as they speak.
  4. It is often helpful to summarize the conversation to ensure you received and understood the important points of the message.
  5. Open your mind. When we work and relate in collaborative environments it is imperative to see perspectives from all team members. We can learn ways to improve our best practices, we learn that the opinions of others are also important to hear, and ultimately, we communicate better!
  6. Practice listening. Join a public speaking group – Toastmasters International is an excellent organization which has locations across the world. By attending meetings you can learn public speaking tips while also picking up tips on becoming a better listener – it worked for me!

What can be lost in a moment of not fully listening to colleague, a partner, someone you are caring for? An opportunity to learn from someone, to see another perspective, to understand that your way isn’t necessarily always the right way. When we do not fully engage and learn to listen we lose an opportunity for growth.

When we actually embrace the effort and listen we relate better, we see the world from another perspective, we understand the opinions and values of those around us. I challenge anyone reading this to work on this very important piece of communication!


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