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Do you prefer people who talk or people who listen?

Places I expect to listen, not talk
Lectures
Sermons
Concerts

Places I expect to listen and talk
Team meetings
Staff meetings
Workshops

What turns meetings into lectures or sermons?
No agenda
Dictator or bullying tactics
The meeting leader does not control the meeting

How do those who attend such meetings react?
Nod off
Fume
Look at their watches

What is accomplished in such meetings?
Resentment
Apathy
Perhaps this is why meetings are labeled one of the biggest time wasters.

What can you do?
Be insistent in asking for an agenda prior to the meeting.
Be assertive; support the meeting leader to stay on topic.
I’m thinking about perfecting the ‘time out’ signal. I suppose that’s not terribly civil, but neither is the incessant talker.

FLIP SIDE
A psychologist from the Iowa State Student Counseling Service was a guest speaker at a meeting of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences academic advisers. He has a PhD in counseling psychology. His topic was reading students’ verbal and nonverbal signals. There were 16 advisers present, from student peer advisers to full professors. I asked to sit in because I’ve wanted to learn about nonverbal signals.

Within five minutes, I was taking notes on HOW he engaged everyone present and listened to them, as well as taking notes on what he said.

He began with an open-ended question, “How is advising going this fall?” He spread his arms open and leaned forward as he asked the question. There was no doubt he came to listen and respond to what those advisers wanted to talk about. Initially there was a bit of hesitation, but he soon had advisers giving examples and asking questions.

The group learned from each other as well as from the psychologist. It was a truly inspiring meeting with good solutions. Why? (Actually, I should have expected this; he’s a psychologist.) He is a master of the art of asking and listening.

P.S. I will write a post some time on nonverbal signals but this points out how, sometimes, by listening and observation, you get so much more than you expected. Nice. Very nice.