Don’t you hate it when someone messes up your food order?!? Like when your office is catering in lunch and you verbally request a salad with “Hot Grilled Chicken” and the order taker thought you said a salad with “Hot Girl Chicken” (What does that even mean?). Enter active listening skills. In the receiving end of communication there are two styles of listening: active and passive. The Business Dictionary defines active listening as “the act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another in a conversation or speech”. In this case, if active listening was being practiced, the person writing down the order would have questioned the rationality of what they heard (or thought they heard) and asked a clarifying question: “Did you just say Hot GIRL Chicken?”.
In the world of recruiting, active listening is vital. Our goal is to operate as an extension of each company/candidate that we represent. When working with a client to understand a position they are trying to fill, we must make sure we are actively listening in order to appreciate the full picture and how a candidate would potentially fit into it. Otherwise, we might send candidates who are not a fit resulting in a loss of credibility and diminished opportunities for future business. On the candidate side, if we are not actively listening to what they are looking for in their ideal position, we again risk losing credibility by submitting them to jobs that they would never consider accepting.
Active listening can make a huge impact in all areas of your life both personally and professionally. Challenge yourself to engage fully in your next interaction; it could be an important exchange of information … where more than your lunch is at stake.