September 1, 2010

Professional Listening

What I’m Reading Today: Some social networking stuff.

I recently came across this great piece by Chris Brogan. He says:
I’m a huge proponent of professional listening as part of a business communication strategy. Lots of people will sell you ways to speak. They’ll give you lots of ways to get your message all over the place. Me? I’m passionate about listening as much as I am speaking. You know: two ears, one mouth, that stuff.
I love that! I had never heard the saying two ears, one mouth. And I’d also never heard of listening as a professional skill. How fabulous!

Especially since I pride myself on being a good listener. When I was teaching, they took videos of us to help our teaching (both exhilarating and horrifying to view), and one of the main things I took away from that is that I listen. My body language says, hey, I’m listening.

But to explicitly say that it is a professional skill. Wow. That means you need to work on it. You should be able to bill your client for it. Not just your presentations skills, your talking, your putting it out there. No. How, and how well, you listen.

It makes perfect sense. How can you possibly do your job without listening to others, no matter what your job is?

It also struck me that it is our job as writers, even more so, to be professional listeners. Whether we’re eavesdropping to develop an ear for dialog or doing research for historical accuracy or just perceiving the sounds around us (the shshshshs of the air system, the pad-pad-pad of feet on the stairs, the click of the keyboard as I type). It is not just our pleasure, but our obligation. How can we hope to emulate the world around us if we don’t really sense it?

Questions of the Day: Is it just me? Have you thought of Professional Listening as a skill you need in the workplace, like PowerPoint?

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