Listening: it’s a life skill. And as researchers we probably think of it professionally more than others because it’s our job to “listen” to customers and the market and create insights upon which our organization can act. And on those topics we sure have blogged before: Social Media Listening, Crowdsourcing Innovation, even using questions to help develop research team members.
But, for us it’s about more than just data collection. Listening is fundamental to business partnership. It is our job to get to the questions the company really needs answers to, and to make sure that we are actually influencing our business partners’ decision making.
So when I saw a recent article from the HBR blog network on the discipline of listening I really started paying attention (quasi-pun quasi-intended). Business author Ram Charan presents 5 tips for better listening:
- Pan for Gold-seek the important nuggets in each interaction, and follow-up with questions to sharpen your understanding of those nuggets. This active listening technique will help to guide your conversation down the most valuable path.
- Frame their Reference-strive for empathy. Actively work to understand where the person you are speaking with is coming from.
- Prime the Pump-set yourself up to receive, and broaden your listening base to get new, smart perspectives.
- Take Your Time-we’re usually hopping from meeting to meeting, and taking time to listen to and then digest what someone has said can seem like a waste of time. But, as a sticky note on my computer reminds me: “Stop and Think” These insights will save you time in the long run.
- Reflect-listening is a difficult habit to form. Seek feedback from others on how you’re doing and try to honestly assess your own listening efforts on a regular basis.
We have found that “soft” skills like listening and influencing aren’t soft at all; they are the translational skills that will drive true success for market research in the future. Learn more about the Skills for the Next Generation of Market Researchers.