Communication Skills Hints

Listening is important
August 13, 2014, 11:33 pm
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Dalai Lama: When you talk you are only repeating what you already know; But when you listen you may something new.

This is a simple idea but beautifully significant. 


Listening is a skill we all need to learn and embrace
May 26, 2013, 10:25 pm
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Listening is a skill we all need to learn and embrace

Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Highly Diverse Teams
August 30, 2012, 1:31 am
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At the NGLCC conference in Chicago,  Jim Turley, CEO of Ernst and Young, commented that highly diverse teams tend to be very highly successful or exhibit poor performance.  He suggested that corporate culture was a major influence.  Openness to other perspectives is a key part of this corporate culture.  Listening is ultimately at the heart of this.  This reinforces my favorite YouTube by Tom Peters on strategic listening.  If we listen well, we have the opportunity to understand the various perspectives that can drive us to an optimum solution.   



Kitchen Nightmares
May 16, 2012, 12:46 am
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I watch way too much reality TV.  The common thread seems to be people not listening to people. If you watch for it, you will see it clearly. The easiest target is Teresa of the New Jersey Housewives but many of the Housewives are not that much better. The best example of what a lack of strategic listening can do to a business is Kitchen Nightmares.  Have owners of a business ever paid less attention to their customers and employees than these restaurant owners.   The only people close are the business owners Tabatha helps recover.  Listening is critical business skill.  Tom Peters comments on strategic listening are very real.  Significant business improvements can be made through developing listening skills.  Training is available at


The Dalai Lama on Conversation
February 16, 2012, 2:28 am
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I came across this interesting quote from the Dalai Lama.  It points our the importance of being engaged in our communication with others: 

Even when we engage in ordinary conversation in everyday life, if someone speaks with human feeling we enjoy listening, and respond accordingly; the whole conversation becomes interesting, however unimportant the topic may be. On the other hand, if a person speaks coldly or harshly, we feel uneasy and wish for a quick end to the interaction. From the least to the most important event, the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.

Do you mind if I strap your PDA to my forehead?
October 31, 2011, 2:40 am
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Do you mind if I strap your PDA to my forehead so I can pretend you’re looking at me when I talk?  This was the question in a recent Bizzaro cartoon.  Aside from the commentary on the broad spread addiction to PDA’s, this is an unfortunately all too accurate assessment of many people’s listening skills.  Most people attribute a high percentage of communicating to others to body language.  This is equally true with listening.  Giving people your undivided attention when you are listening to them provides several advantages.  It provides a more comfortable environment for the speaker.  It thus encourages the person to keep talking, aka providing you information about their perspective.  Strategically, this provides us with an enhanced capability to influence others and resolve conflicts.  


Tom Peters on Listening
September 12, 2011, 12:36 am
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I have been very impressed by the comments of Tom Peters about strategic listening.  Tom Peters says that strategic listening is the most significant strategic advantage for any organization on YouTube (google Tom Peters strategic listening to view his commentary).  His comments have caused me to ponder the importance of listening skills.  He says that strategic listening across an organization is even more important than a strategic plan. This basically says that an understanding of the playing field is more important than understanding the goals themselves.   If you don’t understand the playing field, it is very difficult to win. What general would go into battle without an understanding of the field of conflict.  You should really see this video to get excited about developing listening skills, his style can be very compelling as many of you know.  The first question is obviously:  “what is strategic listening?”.  Strategic is defines as important or essential in relation to a plan of action (the Free Dictionary).  If you want to achieve success in any enterprise through a plan of action, strategic listening is essential. It is the understanding the perspective of front line employees, vendors and customers per Tom Peters. It can also include investors, management etc.  A requirement to come to an understanding of the perspective of each group of people is active listening skills. If you are poor listener, you only need to watch almost any reality show to understand how poorly people often listen and to see how destructive an absence of listening can be (Any Real Housewives variant can be very instructive).


Tom also comments that listening is a learned skill. There are techniques discussed in my previous blogs that can help you be a better listener and ultimately be more effective in your job and life relationships.  I attended a seminar with a speaker from a major government contractor on training practices within their company.  It was singularly focused on technical skills and interpersonal and leadership skills were an item which was expected to evolved its own.  These skills do not optimally develop on their own.  I really felt that this was missed opportunity.  Every manager loves an employee with great technical skill.  But in my experience, an employee with great technical understanding but poor interpersonal skill often fails to have an impact.