Developing Your Listening Skills Will Help to Make You a Much Better Laundry Owner
Open any anatomy book (or just look in the mirror), and you will quickly see that members of the human species have two ears and one mouth. Perhaps the original designer had in mind, as has been often suggested, that we should listen at least twice as much as we talk. And, of course, every conversation involves listening.
Unfortunately, I think that really listening to what others have to say is rare. There are numerous reasons for this; however, a principal cause is that we, as humans, are mighty complex creatures. Our minds are always in motion, so being a good listener requires that we be able to “put ourselves second” to the talker, which is difficult for most of us to do because we tend to give priority to our own individual psychological, workplace status and intellectual needs.
It’s also interesting to note that when we are growing up and in school we are given courses in “public speaking,” yet none are offered in “public listening.” We are taught to talk but not to listen. Interesting, huh?
Here’s my personal, humorous take on poor human listening behavior: several times during the day, people will ask me (and likely you, too), “How are you?” If I were to answer, “Well, just this morning I got run over by a large bus,” the person who asked how I was would likely ignore what I said and simply reply with a statement such as, “That’s great. Have a good day.” It’s a somewhat exaggerated example, but you get my point.
Of course, the meaning of my observation is that people just don’t truly listen to one another very often. They hear each other, but they don’t listen – because there is a vast difference between hearing and listening.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand,” wrote author Stephen Covey, “they listen with the intent to reply.”
And he has a valid point.
As a laundry owner, you often talk with your suppliers, customers, attendants and others. Therefore, developing your listening skills is, in my estimation, essential to your success.
Doing so will reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and have a lot to do with how people you are communicating with will perceive, treat and react to you and your laundry business. It also can – and will – impact your market share, business image and profitability. In fact, it’s an important, often-ignored management ingredient.
In my recent research on listening, I came across an interesting article in which the author placed “bad” listeners into six distinct categories. I suggest you review each one carefully, to see if perhaps you fall into one or more of them. And, if so, work on improving and refining your listening skills – because, by doing so, you most likely will improve your interpersonal business relationships and, thereby, increase your success as the result.
Here are the six categories:
“The Mind Reader” – mind readers don’t actually hear any of the words the other person says, because they are too busy trying to figure out what the other person is really thinking or feeling.
“The Rehearser” – in this case, the listeners are so busy thinking about what they are going to say in response that they never really listen to what the other person is actually saying in the first place.
“The Dreamer” – these listeners drift off and start thinking about other things. This can lead to the embarrassing question, “I’m sorry, what was it you were saying?”
“The Comparer” – in this instance, the listeners concentrate on the person they are speaking with and comparing him or her to other people they’ve dealt with, which prevents a valid listening process from occurring.
“The Derailer” – these listeners change the subject too quickly, which sends the message that you‘re not really interested at all in what is being said.
“The Sparrer” – in this scenario, the listener actually hears what is being said but immediately jumps to counter it, thus appearing defensive, which can make the other person suspicious of your sincerity.
A lot of research has been done on the listening process (for obvious reasons), and it generally suggests that there are two basic causes of poor listening. One is insecurity, and the other is the inability to simply pay attention. I will add a third conclusion of my own, which is the complexity of the human mind and its natural tendency to be self-serving.
As I mentioned, when you operate a self-service laundry, conversations occur constantly between you and your attendants, your customers and others. Being able to listen in the proper manner is essential to your success, because the people you are talking to have a way of perceiving whether or not you are actually listening to what they are saying. They look for various cues in this regard, ranging from your verbal responses to your body language.
Listening is a critical skill that can (and should) be learned and refined.