There are many different things to consider when successfully implementing a product. We previously discussed how important a knowledgeable project manager is to the success of an implementation. But another crucial component to success is listening – something often overlooked. Implementation projects can be costly, and if you do not listen properly this can cost millions in additional work such as fixes, corrections, and extended project timelines. We all like to think of ourselves as good listeners, but there is always room for improvement. Here are a few tips on how to improve your listening habits in both work and in your personal life.

Just listen

With our busy lives it can be tough to “just listen” without any distractions. It is important to be as present as possible so that you focus completely on listening. According to the Positivity Blog, which shares ten steps for how to be a better listener, putting down the smartphone or tablet is a great first step. If you have a hard time sitting still while listening, then get outside and get some fresh air – this can help clear up a foggy head. Alternatively, if you are currently limited in your listening ability, such as being stressed or tired, let the other person know so that you can properly set their expectations before the conversation starts.

man with hand on ear listening for quiet sound or paying attention

What did you say?

Ever think you were listening to someone only to realize you completely missed what they said? The Positivity Blog also offers some tips for that in their article. One of the key strategies is to summarize what was said, and this can also help to correct any misunderstandings that arise. Another strategy is to ask questions, especially focusing on questions that can be answered beyond just a “yes” or “no” answer. Finally, it is important not to interrupt or try to finish the other person’s sentence – allow the person speaking to fully complete their idea.  

Listening Pays

Listening is a topic that seems easy enough, but can difficult to master. Another great resource is the website Listening Pays, run by Dr. Rick Bommelje, named one of the best 300 professors in the nation by Princeton Review. Here you can learn all about the services that Rick offers and see some free resources, as well. If you want to dive into the topic even further, you can check out Rick’s book, also called Listening Pays.

We hope we’ve given you some good starting points to improve your listening skills. At Millennium Consulting LLC, we make listening part of our corporate culture and we encourage all of our employees to listen to our clients and to each other with courtesy and respect.