Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: Lucy Ke - The Technology of Listening

In the comedy “Last Holiday,” Queen Latifah’s character becomes so frustrated by her boss’s preoccupation with his cell phone, she winds up smashing it as a prelude to quitting.

Why is that funny? Why are handhelds used as symbols of arrogance? Obviously, it struck a chord because audiences cheered and laughed when Queen Latifah finally demolished her boss’ phone.

Ever worked with a bad listener? Ever worked for a bad listener who also derived a sense of personal importance from being “always on,” constantly texting and responding to cell phone calls when others are trying to speak? In her book Seven: The Number for Happiness, Love, and Success, former Reader’s Digest editor Jacqueline Leo remarks, “Our own conceit becomes one of the reasons people can’t put their machines down. They make us feel too important.”

Not being heard is frustrating and draining, and can usually mean business gets done ineffectively, with needless errors, or not at all. Relationships also suffer from the lack of courtesy.

Regardless of technological advances, being heard is a basic human need.

We’re so preoccupied by “digital traffic” we forget how important it is to listen, and to develop those skills. What’s more, we’ve forgotten the value of the listener in routine human contact. Being listened to has a transformative effect on human beings—they feel valued and revitalized—better information is exchanged, and relationships deepen and strengthen.

So bear this in mind the next time you put someone off because you’ve just got to get that text across: these devices are intended to help communication, not hinder them.

Lucy Ke is president of KeFactors, which provides leadership and customer service training, course development, and coaching for organizations eager to tap into their associates' talents and potential. With 30 years in design and marketing, Lucy believes in cultivating more strategic individuals for a more productive workplace. She can be reached at 404.444.0747 or LucyKe@Kefactors.com.

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