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Listen Up

Listen Up

A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, Philip Crosby wrote a wonderful book titled Quality is Free, in which he argued that it’s cheaper to build things right the first time than it is to fix them later.

I would echo his sentiment by stating that that listening for understanding is also free.

It’s safer, smarter and a much better use of time to listen for understanding than it is to circle back and fix the problems, accidents, and damaged relationships and reputations caused due to ineffective communication.

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? So why doesn’t everyone do this?

Why don’t more people and organizations choose to make listening a competitive advantage…an advantage which builds trust and ensures clarity while also eliminating misunderstanding?

I’ll get to that in just a moment. The fact is, it’s always cheaper and smarter to listen for understanding and do everything right the first time and here are a few reasons why:

TIME: Failure is more expensive in terms of time when you have to do the job over again…all because of errors in communication.

MONEY: Money spent to fail due to ineffective communication must be spent again to succeed.

REPUTATION: Your credibility decreases with each failure and misunderstanding, making it more difficult to gain support or forgiveness.

PRECEDENT: Success sets a positive example and precedent for future accomplishment.

PRIDE: Taking pride in one’s work is impossible when you have to explain away poor performance due to not listening in the first place.

Now, let’s get back to the key question: Why don’t more people and organizations get the message that listening for understanding is quality, compassion and professionalism in action?

It’s embarrassingly simple — it takes more time right now, it takes more patience right now, it takes discipline more right now, it demands greater focus right now, it requires more caring and commitment right now, and most importantly, it requires that you slow down and pay careful attention to exactly what is being said rather than focusing on your reply.

Sadly and unfortunately, most people don’t listen for understanding, they listen for replying. They’ve never learned that once of the most sincere forms of respect, and one of the greatest competitive advantages comes from listening for understanding.

Allow me to provide a bit more clarity…when you are listening for understanding, you are listening completely, attentively and lovingly…you are listening not only to the words but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not just part of it.

Quality is about love, and one of the primary duties of love is to listen for understanding.

Quality first, quality always and a commitment to listening for understanding is another force multiplier, another tool in your portfolio of skill sets which allows you to do everything right the first time.

While not listed on any job description…listening for understanding is one of the true hallmarks of greatness and the best part is that it’s FREE!

Everything Counts!

Gary Ryan Blair

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