Have you ever had that feeling that someone is not listening to you? Instead, they are just waiting for their turn to speak? It’s not an easy thing to notice if you are the one NOT listening well! You can identify someone who is not listening through their lack of engagement. Perhaps they are not giving you eye contact, or when they do speak, they disregard what you have just said, or they ask a question that has nothing to do with the conversation! It’s frustrating isn’t it? I often observe people talking at each other instead of listening. People who are actually in agreement, very quickly find themselves in disagreement because they haven’t paused to listen and ask some questions.

Last week I was Involved in a discussion about a strategic plan. The General Manager wanted to make a simple adjustment to the strategic plan. Everyone else in the room disagreed with him, saying, “we have already done that”. But the GM disagreed with them! This conversation went on for about 10 minutes, with no resolution. For a while I couldn’t figure out why they were in disagreement, when I could see they were really saying the same thing. I eventually realised it all came down to the terminology they were using. I spoke up, and once they figured that their differences of opinion came down to terminology, they came to an agreement and moved on.

If people in this team had taken the time to slow down and ask questions, much of the miscommunication would have disappeared, and what was a difficult conversation could have resolved quickly. So much time is wasted disagreeing with each other when actually we agree, but we just don’t know it. And when we miscommunicate, it very quickly leads to rework, or contributes to slow decision making.

How often does a lack of listening and asking questions lead to time wasted and rework in your team?

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