The Lost Art of Listening

The art of ListeningYou’re not listening.

How many times do we hear that phrase every day? We think we’re listening, but what we’re really doing is trying to solve the problem, fix the person, or move on to the next thing on our long list of things to do.

I participated in a leadership challenge last week and because I love both a challenge and having fun, I dove right in and got started with my first assignment which was to describe who I am and what I do.

So who am I?

Many of you know that I’m a small business hiring expert, aka recruiter, but I believe my true gift is being an “Insightful People Connector.” Throughout my career, I was always the one people came to for advice on finding a job they would love and the one my colleagues sought out to make sure they were hiring the right person. Even when I wasn’t a “recruiter,” I was always connecting people with jobs they would love. And people must think I’m good at it because my insights are being shared and people who need help are referred to me all the time.

What do I do?

I work with small business owners and job seekers who are open to trying something different in a way they’ve never experienced before. If you are a business owner tired of being on a hiring roller coaster where you experience the high of thinking you’ve found the perfect person only to be plunged to the depths of disappointment when that person turns out to be another bad hire, I’m here to help. If you are a job seeker tired of not getting interviews or job offers, you can get help from an expert recruiter who’s reviewed thousands of resumes and conducted thousands of interviews.

What’s your “secret sauce?”

When I posted this in the challenge group, someone asked what I thought my secret sauce was to helping others find the right job or the right employees. I have to be honest, my secret sauce isn’t all that secret. I preach it all the time, and it’s one word: clarity. I help business owners find clarity about what they need and the type of person who will love filling that need for them, and I help job seekers find clarity about what they love to do and how to present their knowledge, skills, and abilities to employers.

Isn’t finding clarity pretty easy?

And now that I revealed my secret sauce, you should be able to find clarity and stop the madness. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Because as a small business owner or job seeker, you tend to become too tangled in your hiring pain to objectively assess where you are and how you need to move forward. My objectivity gives you the clarity you need to break the cycle of bad hiring decisions.

How do I help my people find the clarity they so desperately need?

I listen. I help them to stop what they are doing, get quiet, and truly listen. It seems pretty easy to do and yet it is probably the most difficult part of finding clarity.

When I listen to you as a business owner or job seeker, I hear your pain, I understand where you are struggling, and I help you find the clarity you need to hire the right people or find your dream job. You are busy with lots of demands for your time and attention. It can be impossible for you to find the quiet time you need to figure it out.

But, you have to do it. Listening is a lost art in our noisy, tech filled world. Your day is filled with text messages, voice mail, email, phone calls, and endless meetings. Then you go home and have more demands on your time. Listening gets pushed aside in favor of solving the busyness of our lives. We just have to get through this (whatever it is) and then we’ll have time. But that time rarely comes.

Listening takes time.

Find the quiet however you can. Block out the time on your calendar. Get out in nature and relax. If you don’t have the luxury of 30 minutes or an hour, start small with 5 or 10 minutes and gradually build up.

Because you see, when you truly listen, much of the busyness goes away. When you listen and hear what’s going on underneath the words and find the cause of the stress and anxiety, you become less busy. You become more focused and productive. Listening pays huge dividends. Listening allows me to truly understand what you need from me because I hear the assumptions underlying your struggles and can help you look at how you are hiring employees or searching for a job in a way you never have before.

When you listen, you find clarity. And when you have clarity, you know what you want, you know what you need, and you know how to get it.

So here’s my message to you this week:

Consciously slow down and listen during those critical conversations. Please share your experience in the comments. Your insights may be exactly what someone else needs to hear.