There’s nothing like sharing an obsession to bring a couple closer. It was my handsome husband who got me hooked on Medici: Masters of Florence. Yes I watched all 8 episodes last week-end and remain obsessed with Cosimo and Contessina.
This is not really a spoiler. In episode 3, or maybe 4, in a flashback young Cosimo learns that the family of his friend Rinaldo Albizzi is in financial straits. The thing that was supposed to turn around their finances was a ship loaded with precious cargo to sell. Sadly the ship sank en route.
In sharing this news with his dad, Giovanni, makes the point that they should have bought insurance and then later humiliates the Albizzi family by making them leave the signoria (powerful local government) because no one in bankruptcy is allowed to be a member of this governing body.
While old Giovanni was definitely listening to news he could use to his advantage, this was no case of empathetic listening. Because there was no empathy involved, the Albizzi family then devoted considerable resources getting their revenge on the Medici clan.
I’m not saying you need to listen better so you can blackmail people. I’m saying that whatever you do listening better will improve your performance in any work you do with people.
I wish I had better news, as I doubt you listen as well as you think you do. (Incidentally modern research unequivocally and positively correlates listening with persuasion.)
Listening is not the same as hearing.
And some people are whiners and go on and on.
Listening is not waiting to respond or deciding if the speaker is worthy of your precious time.
It gets worse.
It’s not even enough to listen for correct understanding, to build trust, the other person needs to feel that you listened to them. It can happen that you listen, you understand, but because of the way you respond (e.g. too cavalier) then you’re discounted as not listening.
Listening is hard and a bit painful. You have so much more to do than just sit there and listen. You are 7 steps ahead and probably do know what she is about to tell you.
Here are 3 tips to listen better:
- Pretend that you know in advance that what is being said to you is actually intelligence to make your life better, if you understand it correctly and act on it appropriately. Assume positive intent. Assume there is something in this message that you need to get now.
- Listen for the underlying emotion and motive. This is something you’ll want to verify with the speaker. If you check with how the person is feeling about what he has to say, you have a much better chance of achieving empathetic listening. This is a secret excellent business coaches like Susan McMullen use. She can help a client make a better decision by noting how the client describes the situation. Is he exhausted, excited, nervous or faking it????
- Ask yourself, “What is it that’s not being said in this message?” That gives you something to focus on. Try to get a more complete picture and discern what is being left out of this narrative. (For more on this aspect of listening click here.)
My dear friend and avatar of elegance, Catherine McCloud, president of Commonwealth Hospitality, teaches the finer points of etiquette to business professionals. She knows a thing or two from her previous years as Director, International Sales Offices & Sales Training at Ritz Carlton. People who listen well send a powerful message that they are interested in you and that what you say is important. Not only is it so important to listen attentively to understand all that is being communicated, it is also critical to show your interest though your nonverbal signals.
Communication conundrums tend to recuperate when people listen better. Starting with you. Take a cue from Giovanni Medici and make more effort to listen. You might even find it a profitable practice.
If you’re interested in getting executive coaching for a day I’m offering #LuxeBrandYou Small Coaching on April 28. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.