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A listening technique for managers for handling interruptions

 In Listening

If you’re a manager, consider having a ‘Listening station’ near your desk as your designated place to listen to your direct reports and other people who want to talk with you.

Let me explain. When people come up to your desk to talk with you for ‘just a minute’ it can be tempting to continue to work on the matter in front of you while you partially listen to the person (please see last week’s post, ‘Continuous partial attention versus DBAE’).

If you do continue working while listening to the person, you might miss out on some important detail, or a body language or vocal cue. From the other person’s perspective, you’ll be perceived as not fully present. They may feel slighted by your lack of focus. They might rush what they have to say because of your lack of full attention.

If you subscribe to the view that every time you interact with someone it forms an impression and a potential for loss or gain, your partial listening will likely leave a negative impression with the person.

Here’s how you can handle that situation. When a person comes to your desk, make one of two decisions. One: Tell the person you can’t give them the time now and that they’ll need to talk with you later. Two: Stand up and go to your designated listening station near your desk and DBAE (Don’t Be Anywhere Else). The ‘listening station’ is just a specific spot near your desk that you have pre- determined as the place for you to to give people your full attention.

By doing this separation from your desk work, you’ll find it much easier to focus and get the whole message the person is delivering. You’ll also be perceived as an attentive listener.

The How to apply for this post: In the next seven days choose an area next to your desk as your designated ‘Listening Station’ and start using it for your interactions. Then reflect on the worth of using this technique.

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