4.3 Book Chat- "Listen Up"

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Bob's Big Boy used to be a pretty, I'll say classic American diner type restaurant. One of them has also been a factory worker, a publisher, and ultimately returned to library work, and in fact, that's where they met. When you interrupt your co workers when they are speaking it doesn't allow us to hear all of the important different opinions that we need to discuss, so that's facts.

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Well, hi there. It’s Margaret Meloni. And if you will let me, today I would like to share a book with you and that book is called Listen Up, how to communicate effectively at work. And the book was written by Eunice Lemay and Jane Schwanberger. Now, both authors of this book have had some really interesting positions throughout their careers. For example, one of them was a hostess at Bob’s Big Boy. Bob’s Big Boy used to be a pretty, I’ll say classic American diner type restaurant. One of them has also been a factory worker, a publisher, and ultimately returned to library work, and in fact, that’s where they met. Working together for a public library system and you know, I thought that in libraries all you ever heard was shhh. But apparently there’s a need for communications when you work together in a library system. And so they worked together to help bring us help with workplace communication because they saw a need in their own environment. Now, it’s an easy read, and I’m not saying this to promote laziness. But, whenever possible, it’s really nice to get what you need from a business book as quickly as possible, because you’re busy, and the point is to be able to put things to work right away. All right, what you’ll find in this book are some tips on how to really listen to others. How to motivate others to listen to you. How to work through some common listening blocks such as gender, culture, generational differences and how to listen to an employee, and how to listen as a supervisor. So all that’s packed into this little book, so it’s a very powerful little book here. What I would like to focus on right now, if I may, is just some listening and conflict resolution with clients and also with coworkers. Well, let’s start with the clients. If you have a client that is angry with you. You may need to let them vent a little bit. This doesn’t mean that you are a doormat. Let them be angry, but don’t let them be abusive towards you. If they swear or yell, it’s okay to say something along the lines of, you know? I understand that you’re angry. But it’s really not okay for you to speak to me like that. I do want to hear what you have to say but I just don’t think it’s necessary for you to curse at me. So think about saying that in your way, in your speak, I like to say in your speak, not in Margaret’s speak. Now you can offer an apology. This doesn’t mean you did something wrong or that you’re admitting something. But it means that if you can see that somebody is upset and you apologize to them for the fact that they have gotten to a place where things have transpired that they are upset. That’s a nice way to help soothe them and ease the situation. You also want to make sure that you’re giving them your complete and undivided attention. Which means give them your complete and undivided attention. Ask questions to help them explain to you exactly why they’re upset. Ask them what it would take to be okay with the situation. And if possible give them what they want. You can’t always give them what they want and sometimes somebody who’s upset might make some demands that seem unreasonable. But what you’re doing here is when you are asking the questions, like the title- you’re listening to what they say. You are trying to interact with them in a way that shows that you want to work with them, you’re willing to work with them. Again, if possible give them what they need and if it’s not possible, try to ascertain which part of the solution would satisfy their needs. So when you give them something partial that’s going to satisfy the area where they are the most upset, that’s something to think about. So, you have a client who’s upset. They’re upset about a specific policy perhaps at your organization. Maybe you can’t change that policy for them. But you might be able to act within the policy to satisfy them. And perhaps you can tell them how to further communicate their displeasure regarding the policy, giving them an avenue to be heard. People who are upset frequently want to be heard. In fact, a root cause, sometimes, is when people feel that they have not been been heard. This isn’t always true but it’s frequently true. Now there’s an approach they use in the book that they call the FIRR technique. F I R R, and so it’s considered the FIRR technique. FIRR, F, facts, start with facts first. Start with facts first and now we’re going to use this FIRR approach on co worker so let’s think about co workers. When you interrupt your co workers when they are speaking it doesn’t allow us to hear all of the important different opinions that we need to discuss, so that’s facts. Next we talk about impact. What are the consequences of this particular behavior. Okay, impact. When others are cut off and are not allow to finish speaking it causes frustration and it’s bad for moral. This is a way you might describe the impact of this behavior to someone. Now we go to the first R which is respect. Got a little Aretha Franklin in here R E S P E C T. You’re going to speak to the difficult person or the person you are in conflict with respectfully. Always treat them respectfully. Then the last R you’re going to make a request, ask for what you want. I’m asking you to stop yourself from interrupting others. If you like, I can help you by holding up my hand when you start or to provide some other sign as an example. This is the FIRR technique. And it’s advisable definitely to leave emotions out of the discussion as much as you can. This is true now with clients and with co workers, leave emotions out of it as much as you can. I mean we’re human so this isn’t always difficult that the calmer you can be the better. And so this takes something that you’ve heard me saying a few times now. It’s that thing called practice, it’s going to take some practice. The more difficult you perceive someone to be or the more strongly feel about the conflict, the more you’re going to need to work on your emotions. And that’s okay, because you are who you are and we’re all people. Remember to be direct, be honest and be respectful. And that means this is a two way conversation and you need to listen to their perspectives, too, because afterall, again, the book is called Listen Up. Now if you’re curious about more, then check out the bibliography on page 117. You’re going to see some great sources and there’s also additional reading that comes recommended for us on page 119. Both contain some really helpful resources for communications leadership. And for surviving the workplace challenges that most of us will or already do face. So let’s all of us Listen Up! Thanks. Bye for now.

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