Listen First, Then Communicate

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    Plutarch, Greek historian, biographer and essayist, once said: “Only he who listens speaks well”, and he couldn’t be more right. It turns out that the previous premise does not only apply to people. It is also applicable in business. Even knowing how to listen becomes a competitive advantage to satisfy the needs of our stakeholders.

    Peter Ferdinand, considered the father of management, wrote in one of his more than 35 books: “The most important thing in a negotiation is always to listen to what it tells us.”

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    It is often underestimated

    Despite this, listening is often underestimated in communication processes by organizations. Therefore, developing a good listening strategy is a vital element in any communication plan.

    The writer and doctor in sociology, Manuel Campo Vidal, warns in his book You are what you communicate, that listening is the counterpower of emotion. Just as the word is the counter power of silence, and mastery of these four skills is synonymous with excellent communication.

    Putting the interests of the company first, or being self-referential, is no longer profitable. The environment requires meeting the needs of stakeholders. Also, understand what moves them and what is the cause and interest that brings them together.

    Listening perspectives

    Normally, in communication, we can talk about two listening perspectives in the corporate communication strategy. The first refers to the functional one, which is carried out actively and daily, stimulating new management and leadership, as well as developing strong engagement in the organization.

    In the second, we can work on the special or occasional perspective, which is developed from the investigation and creation of segmentation studies (AD HOC). And they are managed in a personalized way, but you need your own methodologies for each case study.

    Thus, “active listening” becomes an elementary tool for the care of reputation. Because it allows us to build connections and relationships with value. These grant the ability to develop conversations with stakeholders based on their expectations and needs, and of course, minimize the risk of communication errors in the process.

    In addition, it gives organizations a greater ability to anticipate a reputational and communication crisis. That is to say: part of the premise that, mostly, crises are caused by an aspect that was known by someone in the organization. Possibly someone no one listened to, or simply underestimated himself.

    Vital tool

    Let us remember that, today more than ever, there are only two types of companies, those that have already experienced a crisis, and those that are going to experience a crisis, and in this scenario, listening is a vital tool.

    The doctor in communication and psycholinguistics, Joseph A. Devito, assures that listening is divided into five fundamental phases: the first is to receive, the second to understand, the third to remember, the fourth to evaluate and the fifth to respond.

    And, of course, we cannot ignore technology, which opens up a range of options to understand our stakeholders. As well as the conversations of the competition, through existing points of contact. If you do not have them, it is urgent to develop them to have a highly efficient listening panel.

    Finally, it will always be important to remember a famous phrase by J.W. Goethe: “Speaking is a necessity, listening is an art.”

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