Notice I didn’t say “active listening”. Because this isn’t a post about active listening. We all know that stuff, right? Eye contact, body language, paraphrasing, etc. To listen well, we need to demonstrate that we’re paying attention.
I want to talk today about being a respectful listener. Honestly, I want to rant today about being a respectful listener. I’ve been to a few functions recently where people have forgotten how to be respectful in a listening environment. Maybe you’ve had these happen to you:
Scenario #1 – At a conference, two people are sitting next to you talking the entire time. No respect for the people around them who are trying to listen. And the funny part – they have their laptops open and could have texted each other instead.
Scenario #2 – During a training session, participants having sidebar conversations. Their manager was in the room. These employees were going to be held accountable for the material and they weren’t paying attention to what the facilitator had to say. Instead, they were holding the entire group back.
Scenario #3 – In a meeting, cell phones ringing. Loudly. The people trying to participate in the meeting were getting annoyed. But the cell phones were not put on vibrate or even had the sound turned down.
Now you might say, “Sharlyn, I would have told these people to shut up, turn off their phone, whatever.” And that’s true, you could do that. I guess my point is … should you have to? Isn’t all this just common courtesy?
I’m not going to say I’ve never looked at my phone during a presentation. Or sent out a tweet during a conference keynote. Answered an important text I got from home. Replied to a client’s email question. It happens. But I do believe it can be done without disrupting everyone else.
All it takes is a heightened sense of respect for others who are in the listening environment.
Ultimately, we are held responsible for listening and understanding the content. If we don’t want to pay attention – that’s fine. But we’re still held accountable. The same is true for everyone else in the room. Let’s respect their right to learn.
Image courtesy of HR Bartender