Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
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Ernest Hemingway one said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” I believe this quote to be so very true. Until I attended coaching school and learned how to listen, I was often guilty of selective hearing. I believe this was in large part due to my engineering background. Engineers as well as other technical professionals are always geared towards problem solving. Therefore when we listen, we listen for “answers” needed to solve problems. Once we have these “answers” we tend to tune out the rest of the conversation as we are already solving the problem in our heads or we start looking for the next problem to solve!
Why don’t people listen? People like to hear themselves talk. Admit it, we all do! We have a lot of thoughts and experiences on our mind and we want to share them. Sharing your thoughts is great but engaging and listening to those we are speaking with is important to your relationships both personally and professionally. Do you find yourself cutting people off before they finish their sentences? We are all anxious to keep moving forward, so much so, that we sometimes don’t hear important messages that people are trying to tell us including managers, co-workers, clients, friends, spouses, children, etc.
There is a very valuable skill called Acknowledging. Acknowledging is when you repeat back to someone the words they just told you. For example, a client may say to you, “This is our largest project and it means a lot to us.” You would acknowledge the client by saying, “Bob, we understand that this is your largest project and that it means the world to you and that is why we have our best civil engineers working on the project non-stop!” This shows the client that you are listening to them and as trivial as acknowledging may sound, it can be extremely powerful in building relationships.
How many times have you heard someone attribute a problem in the workplace to “mis-communication?” Do they mean “mis-communication” or do they mean someone wasn’t listening and missed out on what they were supposed to do? I believe many times it is the latter. Communication is a two way street, it has to be! If someone tells you something and you don’t listen, what’s the point?
Over the next few weeks, make it a point to listen. Even during the holidays with your family, try acknowledging them, you’ll be surprised at the response you get. Companies lose money, projects and employees when people repeatedly don’t listen. By improving your listening skills you will set yourself apart from other professionals and your professional and personal life will be much more rewarding!
Remember the key to success starts with listening not answering!