2019-04-15 Issue 92 – Fundamental Behavior 15 – Listen to understand
When I was asked to pick the Fundamental Behavior for this message, there was no hesitation on my part. This week’s Fundamental Behavior, “Listen to understand,” is the one that those who work close to me around the office know is my favorite. Why? Because, admittedly, I have a bad habit of interrupting others or responding while others are speaking.
Listen to understand. Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” The previous write-ups about this Fundamental Behavior underline that listening improves with practice. As children we heard “practice makes perfect;” that practice and repetition are the way to become proficient at something. “Don’t give up,” we heard. “Persist.” Do you always give others your undivided attention? “Listening means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us,” said poet Alice Duer Miller. Listening is the active process of receiving and responding to spoken (and sometimes unspoken) messages. Practice this activity today. Practice at every opportunity, practice with your coworkers, practice at home and with friends, practice during the next department meeting and make it fun.
Take that vigorous interest in understanding. This carries us right into the second part of this week’s Fundamental Behavior, “to understand.” In preparation for this message, I asked my coworkers whether “listen” or “to understand” is the most important part of the behavior. Without hesitation, “listen” topped the answers. In “listen to understand,” when you understand, you perceive the intended meaning of the words. So, again, listening is more than not speaking. It’s asking questions when in doubt. It’s writing down notes so you can read them back. Understanding is the responsibility of the listener as well as the person delivering the message. Ask if the message is clear; pause and clarify, then resume the conversation. It’s okay. Don’t be that person that simply nods your head in acceptance.
YKK is a global corporation with people from many nationalities, cultures and languages where clear communication is one of the keys to our success. “Listen to understand” provides just that, a tool for communication success. Again, practice today and as often as possible.
I am sure that we all remember the day when we joined YKK. We remember how old we were, the hobbies we liked, what kind of car we had, and maybe the clothes we wore on that first day. Many of us were looking for a job, others were searching for a career, and some of us, like myself, were looking for an adjustment to our personal life. As I write this, I just celebrated my 19th anniversary of service to YKK USA. It is human nature to contemplate our accomplishments; what footprints have we left for others to follow? And even deeper, what good or bad experiences will we carry beyond YKK? For me, it’s that I’ve improved on the skill of listening. No matter what the future brings, “listening to understand” will forever be part of who I am.
Thank you for listening.
Senior Manager, Sales Operations
YKK (U.S.A.) INC.