Nodding but not Listening?

What's Your Listening Quotient - LQ

Imagine this: you’re sitting in a meeting and suddenly realize you’ve misplaced your wallet. Oh no! What happens to your ability to listen to the speaker? It decreases. You still hear what the presenter is saying – even look involved and interested – but you are far more engaged with an interior conversation about where the heck you left it.

It happened to me just last week.

At Decker, we often discuss the importance of focusing on our listeners – considering who they are, what they want, what their attitudes are, what they need and what interests them. There is a reason that listeners are the first step in the Decker Grid.

Consider the opposite side: What can we do as listeners to improve our ability to absorb what’s being said in a meeting or presentation? I call this your Listening Quotient (LQ).

LQ fluctuates according to:

  • Concerns and distractions – A deadline, a tough decision, multi-tasking or even a non-work related worry like a sick child at home
  • Negative Opinions – A negative opinion of the speaker or the topic (or worse – both) that filters the message
  • External Factors – Interruptions, noisy environment, bad timing – just to name a few

Yikes – so many items fall into those three little categories.

So what do we do about it? Here are 5 ways to raise your LQ:

  • Write down what else is on your mind. Dry cleaners? Aunt Nellie’s birthday? Or even, where did you leave your wallet? Jot it down. It won’t resolve those “to-do” items, but it will increase your LQ to make a note of the action you want to take.
  • Put your negative opinion on the back burner. Sounds easy enough, but what if it’s someone you really dislike? Try to focus on “How can I contribute?” You can go back to your negative opinion of him/her afterwards.
  • Ask questions. As soon as you ask a question, you become engaged. It changes everything.
  • Yes, and… Use those two simple words to build and grow other people’s ideas – especially if you don’t like what they recommend.
  • Turn it off. Phone, email gong, the volume on your computer, etc. We all know it’s distracting – and so simple to fix.

In a world where we’re becoming increasingly preoccupied, knowing how to manage LQ is more important than ever. What other tips do you use to help focus your listener?