The “this” I’m referring to might surprise you. It’s not education, although you do need a good education to go into such a cerebral undertaking. It’s not a J.D., although that helps too. It’s not an advanced degree in life or physical science, although it’s easier to understand the innovations you’re managing if you can understand the researchers.
It’s much simpler than that, and yet many of us fail at it every day.
I heard a presentation recently from author and business consultant Tom Peters. In it, he said the average doctor listens for about 18 seconds to a patient before jumping in and presenting solutions. 18 seconds! That’s about long enough to get out, “Well…I’ve been having this pain in my neck. It tends to happen when I’ve been sitting for long periods of t…” Time’s up.
If you want to work in Intellectual Property Management, you don’t want to adhere to the 18-second rule. You’re not billing by the hour. You want to take the time to get to know the people, projects, and funding opportunities out there. Building relationships is not a timed activity.
Here are some “do’s and don’ts” to becoming a better listener:
- Don’t be thinking about your next comment. Hear what’s being said.
- Don’t listen to a few words and start assigning the speaker a role. Don’t assume you know the problem, question, or issue because it sounds like something you’ve dealt with before. Let the speaker finish first.
- Don’t be distracted by your phone, watch, or the person standing over the shoulder of the person you’re speaking with.
- Do ask follow-up questions but don’t ask something just to ask it. Ask broader application questions or background questions.
- Do wait for the speaker to pause before asking the questions.
- Do make eye contact.
- Give the speaker appropriate feedback through sounds, reiterations, and body language (like nodding your head if you understand).
Do you think you’re a good listener? How do you know?