Connie’s Career Corner “Are you really listening to your co-workers?”



“Are you really listening to your co-workers?”


Tip for the day:  When it comes to communication, it is good to remember that we have only one mouth, but two ears.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I have a co-worker who talks all of the time.  Often, he is saying the same thing over and over.  At our meetings he seems to talk more than anyone else.  Do I just need to out-talk him at meetings to be heard?

A:   Dear Tired of the Noise:  Trying to out-talk someone will probably cause your coworkers to “tune you out.”  When it comes to being a good communicator, a good rule to follow is listen twice a much as you speak.  You want your ideas to be listened to and understood.  Often we just hear people, but what we do not really concentrate on is what the person is saying and even more important what the person intends for us to hear.   Listening involves hearing and processing the words, tone of voice and non-verbal communication being sent by the speaker. If you are thinking of what you will say next you are not really listening to the person speaking.


We have all worked with co-workers who seem to monopolize the conversations that take place at work.  Sometimes when a person seems to talk too much in a meeting or becomes defensive, it is because he really does not feel like he is being heard.   So, he talks and talks and talks thinking that somehow what he wants to be heard will click in someone’s mind.


Next time you are running a meeting, try giving this person the floor.  Then repeat back to the person what you understood him to say.  You may be surprised at the difference in what your co-worker was trying to state and what you heard.  He may be surprised that you really listened.  Then continue with, “Now I want to hear what the rest of you think.”


We all listen and process other people’s words against our own experiences.  We assign importance to situations according to how important a situation is to us.  For example, someone might say, “Mary was in an accident.”  If the person delivering the information’s past experience with “an accident” involved running into another car’s bumper and your past experience involved the death of a family member, you will both interpret these words and their meaning differently.  Without further clarification by the deliverer of the message, you may assume that Mary is in the hospital badly hurt.


If you really listen to the ideas of others, then when you speak, your co-workers will want to hear your opinion.  Remember; use your mouth half as much as you use your ears to become a stronger communicator.  It is not the amount of time you are speaking, but the quality of the communication that takes place that counts.


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