Have you ever had an entire conversation with somebody only to feel like your point was not heard? I can say that I have had this happen to me on several occasions. This phenomenon is even more frustrating if the conversation is one that was designed to settle a dispute or argument of some type, or a conversation that involved an important negotiation. Whether it be an argument between spouses, a negotiation between two parties, or even two friends that are just catching up on what's happened during their day, we all have a "need" to feel heard and understood. People want to feel that what they are saying is being understood and "gotten". So how do we actually make sure that we are being "gotten"? I suggest that a good place to start is to begin by being present to others when they are speaking, and practice "getting" them.
Being present is not about being in the room or occupying the same space as the person that is speaking to you. When I say being present what I really mean is being in the conversation, and tuning out that little voice in the back of your head (the one speaking to you right now) that has you doing everything but actually listening. Instead of listening, that little voice has preparing for your eventual response to what the other person is saying, or it may have you thinking about things you should be doing instead of listening to the person speak. When you are present to the conversation at hand you are actually hearing the concerns of the person speaking to you, and you are getting the context of the matter at hand. Formulating your response is no longer at the forefront, rather listening to what the other is communicating to you becomes the sole intention. As you exercise this "muscle" of becoming more and more present to people that are speaking to you, eventually you will discover that you are able to identify the concern or context from which the communication is being delivered. Most conversations actually stem from an area of concern, or a particular context, with the hopes of achieving a specific outcome. The outcome doesn't necessarily need to be one of earth rattling consequences either, but could be one designed to just tell the listener "I am sad today" or "I need a friend". In other words the desired outcome or message could be anything. Being present during the conversation taking place will ultimately expose that area of concern, message, or specific context, and allow for more efficient and effective communication to take place. Ultimately, when the person speaking begins to notice that you are truly listening to what's being said, they will feel "gotten" and their concern, having been now dealt with, will fade allowing them to be present to you when you speak.
When we are listening to a person speak from the context of "I need to respond" we are truly not being present to the person we are communicating with. From the minute the conversation begins, you are not listening from the context of there is something to be heard here, but rather from "I need to quickly have something to respond with". Essentially you have just checked out of the entire conversation in order to make sure that you have a response ready to be delivered. Can you imagine the entire waste of time involved with this type of communication? How many deals could you have closed or candidates recruited had you only listened to the concerns at hand? Think of the arguments that would not have occurred or the repeated conversations that would have been unnecessary had you only been present to begin with. The art of listening is something that needs to be exercised on a daily basis in order for it to become second nature to you. The more you actually listen, and the less you allow yourself to listen to your little inner voice, the more time you will save in the long run and the stronger your relationships will become.
Take a moment to just imagine the relationships that you could improve, or even the new ones that you might create, if you would just begin to actually practice being present during a conversation. As a recruiter, your listening is ultimately one of the most important tools that you possess. Through your listening you can establish not only what the client's needs are, but you can also establish what your candidates concerns are. Not knowing these concerns can ultimately lead to a failed interview or to losing that relationship with your candidate. Listening to your candidates and being fully present during your conversations with them will not only build trust and a long-term relationship, but it may also lead to referrals that turn into placements in the days to come. You can be sure that when a candidate (or client for that matter) feels that they have been fully heard with their concerns understood and being handled, they will feel a sense of relief that will lead to them wanting to share this experience with others.
The RecruiterBuddy software was designed after listening to the concerns of recruiters, and with a full understanding of what was most desired in a software package. It was through this listening that RecruiterBuddy was born, and through this listening that RecruiterBuddy continues to be the most user friendly, low cost, web-based software currently on the market that offers innovative sourcing and parsing tools. We listened to what you wanted and we built it!
So I leave you with this...how many times did your inner voice interrupt you while you read this blog entry? What was the context or concern trying to be communicated?