Posts Tagged ‘improvisational’

No Script Required – Listening Skills

March 11, 2010

An essential tool for success is the ability to listen and understand.

With co-workers and associates we can save a lot of time by getting things right the first time. Listening to understand and be understood is a valuable time saver. Having keen listening skills helps in so many ways.

In sales, listening to the customer provides us with keys to what they are looking for in a product and service and this helps us to adapt our presentation or to bring out the services that our company offers to help fit their needs.  When we act as a consultant, ask questions and listen, we can give superior service and get the sale.

Shakespeare said, “all the world is a stage and we are merely players”.  On stage the actors have the benefit of a script and simply follow their lines. In real life we have no script.  We are all improvisational players as we move through our daily lives. There are a few scripted moments… “How are you?” and we respond with the usual.  Or maybe we can be creative and say something besides.. “fine.”

We can learn many helpful tools for business success from improvisation comedy teams such as Second City in Chicago. Night after night these performers are thrown into situations that they would never expect to be in and they play off what they are given. Someone in the audience may be asked to give a location for the next skit. Amazing places can be tossed out and the actors must be ready to jump forward with whatever is given. Someone may say, you are astronauts on Mars or pastry chefs on a cruise ship or 4th graders in gym class.

The key to the actor’s success is that they jump into it with courage and confidence and then let the story unwind. They react to each other and the situation. No script is available and none is required – just like life.

So he key to their success is listening to the other actors on stage. If one says, “I think I grabbed the wrong space suit.” The story will move forward in a comical way if another actor builds on that line and adds, “yeah, I must have yours as it is giving me an sub – atomic wedgie!”  Consider if the second actor did not focus, listen and respond to what the first said, he might say, “yes and doesn’t the earth look pretty from here.” He just took the scene in another direction and the audience would be confused and less amused.

In real life we need to make a conscious choice to really listen and respond to associates and clients. We must focus attention fully on others and not on what we want to say next.

This focus will lead to better understanding and less misunderstanding. Most importantly, people will feel that we genuinely care.  One of the best ways that we can show that we genuinely care is by giving our undivided attention to others by listening when they speak.

It is easier said than done, but this is a skill that can be developed by practice. Try it each time you are with someone today. Practice makes better.