We can be in such a rush at times in life that we fail to take the time to do something critical: listen. We pass each other at a coffee shop or the H-E-B. We may be inclined to share a quick “good morning” or a “good afternoon,” which is fine by me because that’s a stranger, but what about your co-workers and your colleagues in the office? Are you listening to what other people are saying?
Do you stop and genuinely take the time to ask how they are doing? Are we truly being courteous if we are not listening to what they are saying or paying attention to their body language? My feeling is probably not.
You may ask routine questions about their spouse, their kids, or fire off a mundane remark about the weather or current affairs. Rarely does someone take the time to ask a personal questions about genuine family concerns? Why does this happen? Is it because your cannot afford to invest more than a few seconds of your time?
I think we are falling short as communicators because we live in a fast-paced world of multi-tasking where it’s best to K.I.S.S.(Keep It Short and Simple). Meantime, many people think the best topic in a conversation is to talk about themselves, and when the subject changes, their interest vanishes.
Many people I know just appear to be too busy to build relationships. But to truly get to know your co-workers and colleagues, and potentially build trust and friendships, we must listen more than we share!
You don’t have to take invite someone to lunch or spend 30 minutes with them every day to build trust. But you will need to truly pay attention during your conversations and follow-up on conversations with them about the little bits of information you picked up at the coffee maker or water cooler.
For example, follow up on how their daughter performed in her play, or ask them about the health about a loved one who was recently hospitalized. It just takes a moment of your time to let someone know you remembered something they said and you are letting them know you cared enough to listen to them.
You may avoid a co-worker who appears to be regularly upset and angry. But we have no clue what is going on in their lives. You may assume they are an unpleasant and antisocial person. But in reality, they may have been up all night taking care of a sick child, or with an elderly family member who needs personal care and has come to live with them.
Instead of avoiding these co-workers, what if you took the time to look them in the eyes and ask them how they are doing. You might be surprised at what you learn if we listen for a few minutes. Just listening and the simple gesture of concern could change their whole demeanor and allow them to share their burden and feel like they are not alone.
Listening allows you to get to the root of what someone is trying to tell you. Trying to think ahead and finish someone’s sentence may seem like you are engaged in a conversation, but in reality, it is just rudely interrupting and conveying that you do not have the time to spend with them and their thoughts.
So, today, I invite you to approach someone with whom you want to build trust and a deeper relationship. Look them in the eyes and ask them to “tell me something good,” and see where the conversation goes.
Written by Ana Bishop, Pride PHC Recruiter