Listening skills or lack thereof seems to be a constant struggle that most people, especially entrepreneurs face. Have you ever been told to listen, or on the other hand, had to tell someone “just listen to me?” chances are more likely yes than no.
There is never a true right or wrong way to do things. However, each choice that we make effects a lot of different aspects of the whole picture. There are three particular, easy to understand yet hard to exercise points that I would like to make regarding your business, or life in general, and listening. If you fail to exercise the first two out of the three aspects of listening, you will only be hurting yourself, your credibility, and your bottom line. In addition, if you happen to exercise the last and final point, chances are you are doing yourself and everyone around you a huge disservice.
1.) You’re not listening to your employees.
A sure fire way to break down the morale and productivity potential of your entire workplace is to do this. To bark orders and not listen to those who are giving their time, energy, and attention to you and your dream. Every word that comes out of an employee’s mouth is valuable, some less than others but still worth processing. The more you listen, the more they feel comfortable voicing things that wear them down and make them less valuable. It then puts the ball in your court to give them the proper tools and environment that make them top-notch and most effective. Additionally, if you are failing to listen, this creates a major problem of solving problems on your front line. Employees are the front line of your business, they are the ones that interact with the customers, represent your business, and do day-to-day things. If you are not understanding the problems arising either internal or external, personal or professional, functional and operational or managerial, then you will run your best away and keep your worst, ensuring your business a rough ride full of headaches for yourself. You may be shocked what you hear when they get comfortable, let them express themselves and then diagnose the situation and work towards a proper resolve.
2.) You’re not listening to your customers.
Maybe you are not asking, this may be more of a problem with communication and inquisition rather than listening but it sure can go both ways. To ask, there are many ways of probing for critique and praise from your customers. Every business owner loves to hear they are doing well, that’s not the feedback you need. You need those customers that had a bad experience to explain “why”. Getting sucked into the praise just validates what you are doing and chances are there are many holes that need filled, some are just too nice to help you see that. However, drafting appropriate questions, holding discussions, having a “contact us” page with a contact form, and open commenting on content and social platforms help customers effectively communicate on their terms and comfort level exactly what is the problem with your operations. Similarly, if they are offering constructive criticism and you ignore it or don’t purse it farther to understand a way to correct inefficiencies is dangerous to your business’ health. You run the risk of losing that customer and other future customers. Customize and tweak your business operations to the needs, wants, and desires of your customers, don’t be stuck in what “you” want. Be “them” minded. If satisfaction plummets, it may be due to unresolved or undiscovered issues. You get once chance to win someone’s business. Value that opportunity and do your best to figure out what they think of your first impression.
3.) You are only listening to yourself.
Plain and simple, you started the business, it is your brain-child, your baby, and you had a vision of what it would be. Sound about right? You have a view and expectations of your business and those in it, even your customers. Your business needs to be transparent and free-form allowing your market to shape you. Your idea may be non-conforming to what is needed or desired, you need to consider opening your eyes and ears to options other than just what you think and say. Don’t just listen to yourself, you are the most biased person about your business that you know. If you only listen to yourself you are devaluing your customers and employees, the most valuable assets you have. Be open to outside input.
These three things, guaranteed effect your business very strongly. Once you fix one of the three, you will find that the others fall into place. If you can master the idea of not just listening to yourself, you will see tremendous results from the input you can apply from customers and employees. Give it a try. Before you speak and give another executive order, ask, ponder, and then reconsider your initial decision, does it conform with what your employees know and see about your customer? Does the customer express interest? Is this really in your business’ best interest?
What do you think? Let me know in the comment! Or contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Banks (@brandonbanksbiz), a serial entrepreneur began his entrepreneurial adventure at a young age and currently travels to educate students on the possibility of seizing the day and moving toward their dreams of being their own boss. Together in collaboration with his network Banks disrupts common traditional barriers and exposes that through proper support anyone can be an entrepreneur regardless of where they are at in life. Check out more of Banks’ writing here: http://www.brandonbanksbiz.wordpress.com