So here’s a quick question for you: what is the most pleasant thing that anyone on your IT team can hear? If you guessed “their name”, then congratulations, you got it right! t turns out that we all like to hear our name – it’s basically music to our ears. This is nice to know, but it hints at a big problem with our IT manager skills that most of us IT managers have – we talk too much!
The Problem With Talking Too Much
Hey, we’re IT managers and we’ve got a lot of important things to say, right? When we become IT managers this is often the way that we feel. Here’s a painful question for you: can you remember anything that the other person that you talked with last said? Generally the answer to this question is “no” – we were too busy thinking about what we were going to say next.
Here’s the secret to becoming the best IT manager ever that they probably didn’t cover in any of the IT manager training that you’ve had: stop talking so much and become an active listener. What we need to realize is that as managers we’ll learn very little while we are talking. However, once we shut up and start to listen, we just might start to learn a lot.
When we spend our time talking, there is a high probability that the people that we’re talking to may not want to hear what we are talking about. We might be boring the people that we are forcing to listen to us. However, when you spend your time listening you are showing respect for the people that you are with. It sure seems like this is a better way to spend your time…
The Comprehension Gap
This listening thing is hard to do well. One of the reasons that IT managers struggle to do it well is because of something that is called the “comprehension gap”. This condition occurs because we think much faster than other people talk.
As human beings we all talk at different rates. The average rate is roughly 100 words per minute. However, our comprehension rate is much, much higher. Your comprehension rate may be as great as 1,000 words per minute. What this means is that you are dealing with a comprehension gap between the rate that information is arriving and how fast you are processing it.
We’ve all seen the effect of this gap before. People will be listening to someone, then they’ll go off and check email or do some doodling, and then they’ll check back in with the person who is talking to see if they’ve said anything interesting. As managers we need to force ourselves to stay in the conversation and remain engaged. Find ways to participate in the conversation and you’ll come across as an active listener and everyone wants to be around one of those!
What All Of This Means For You
One of the most important skills that any IT manager has is your communication skills. In order to do a good job of managing your team, you need to forget the IT team building andyou need to learn to talk less and listen more. As easy as this sounds to do, it turns out that it’s actually quite difficult.
The reason that an IT manager who talks too much is a problem is because when we are talking, we’re not listening to what our team is trying to tell us. Not everyone wants to hear what you have to say and so you run the risk of being boring. The reason that we often do a poor job of listening to what members of our team are trying to tell us is because people speak too slow and we drift off. You need to learn to pay attention.
The good news about all of this listening stuff is that we can become better at it. With just a little bit of effort on our part, we can become IT managers who have good active listening skills. If we’re able to accomplish this, then we will have found a way to meet yet another need of the members of our team.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: If you find yourself drifting off when someone is speaking, how can you refocus on what they are saying?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
The one thing that the members of your team want from you more than anything else is simply for you to listen to what they have to say. As simple as this sounds (listening is a part of everybody’s set of IT manager skills, right?), it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. What they really want you to do is to be an active listener and to participate in a conversation with them. Do you know how to do this?