Being a good communicator requires being a good listener. Just in case you are not convinced of the importance of listening, active listening and audience understanding are rated as the two most important competencies of modern communicator in the CEC Skills Assessment taken by more than 2000 communicators around the globe.
However, despite the importance of listening, communicators are often as guilty as the rest of the world on skimping on the listening part or displaying “selective hearing”. One of the reasons is that we are all prone to biases in our listening efforts that impact the way we listen to others, what we listen for, and the conclusions we draw from what we are hearing. Expectation bias (tendency to selectively look for information that supports are pre-existing beliefs); projection bias (tendency to assume that other share one’s thoughts and values) and solution bias (tendency to jump to solutions) are just few out of many biases that we have all at some point had trouble keeping in check.
However, skimping on the listening part at the expense of getting to a quick solution or hearing only things that support our existing beliefs, often prevents us from really understanding what drives our stakeholders’ actions. In turn, focusing on the wrong drivers of behavior decreases our ability to get stakeholders to behave in a desirable way. As a result, the best listeners make a conscious effort to keep their biases in check and take the time to listen and explore the real motivators of their stakeholders’ actions.
In order to help communicators do just that, we have created the BEACONS listening guide. The guide that compiles the key 7 behavioral driver categories (the BEACONS) helps communicators to slow down and assess their current knowledge of what drives their stakeholders’ behavior before leaping to action. It is a simple tool that helps you think about the things you should be listening for, narrows down your focus on the key areas and helps you keep biases in check. We look at it as the first step on a journey to becoming a better listener.
And if you want to learn even more about how to really listen to your audience, make sure to sign up for our September webinar on understanding stakeholders’ behavioral motivators.