The consumer-related and production-oriented business world we live in makes it difficult to discover the power of quietude and receptiveness to the environment. Taking action is so championed that most people find it extremely complicated to sit calm and do nothing, at least on the outside.
Perhaps this is so because most job descriptions include doing something; although call-center agents may disagree with me – just how many times they have needed to sit calmly through a client’s angry rant understanding that doing nothing is the best possible “doing” under the current circumstances?
I am sure they will be the ones who do not only know what I am trying to say here, but also the most adept at adding to it. Call-center agents and other service professionals feel free to help!
For others, you may just find these three (in)actions to drastically improve your world of office (and other) communications.
I am talking about listening, presence and response.
Listening versus Hearing
Talks with clients, informal Skype communication, mobile ringing, new emails arriving, water supplies being filled up, and on top of everything, the car service calls to say that your car will not be ready by Friday as the dealership failed to deliver the necessary spare part you desperately need by the weekend.
And you promised your daughter that you will finally take her to visit her best friend who lives in the other part of the town!
By taking so much in, it is strenuous to keep a part of your energy for listening. You can only hear, and not really listen. Some people call this active listening.
This name is the best description for the illusive passivity of the quality. If you learn the difference between listening and hearing, you will know how to act from a point of understanding an essential human need shared by people everywhere.
All people have the need to be deeply heard. Active listening includes presence with all five senses. And, no, this does not mean that you should go and randomly kiss, stare or smell your colleagues!
It means that you are fully aware of the environment and the changes in the person you talk to so that you know the best way to read the message and respond. Even if you are not able to understand or fulfill all wishes and requests made by others, at least you will know that you have accommodated a genuine human need for connection.
There is great power in listening. Use it wisely!
Presence versus Presentation
Listening brings us to the second powerful in(action). They both have something in common and this relates to the five senses mentioned before.
To be fully present and available for another human being you need to be able to refrain from self-presentation for a minute. When you make a space for other people to present and be themselves, you are fulfilling the crucial human need for acceptance.
Presence does not mean being in the same office or agreeing to attend a meeting and share a conference room.
True presence means being with another human through all that they are, without any judgment. It means calm presence with no nasty sighs, ambiguous looks, eyes-rolling or turning your back on an open conversation and leaving the office.
First of all, full presence needs to happen in us, so that we can give it to another.
Response versus Reaction
The third and all-encompassing quality for all three inaction power tools goes a step further.
By employing the first two “passive” qualities you will be able to act in the best possible way.
I am sure you can remember a time when, instead of waiting for the person who talks to you to finish the sentence, you are already creating an answer in your head.
One needs to be very careful – this often happens later in the stage of (business or any other) relationships, when assumptions, expectations and learned behavior take the place of real-time connection.
Response is exactly in that space which shows up between the questions and the answer.
If you find a way of processing all that has come in without jumping into action with both feet, you have mastered the vital communication skill – response instead of reaction.
Response comes from an authentic space that happens now.
A Bonus Tip: All these power tools are valid for you, too. Do not forget: first of all, listen, be present and responsive for your own sake.
A Bonus Bonus Tip: Be patient in your attempts to become a master office communicator. Remember – borderline obnoxiousness is not included in this article, as for some people even Buddha-like communication skills will not be enough.
So, give yourself some slack and a pat on the back for each day of progress!
Call-center wizards, bring on the comments!