Leadership: Losing My Voice and the Art of Active Listening
Editor-in-chief Rachel Zabonick recaps her recent experience with a severe case of laryngitis and what it taught her about the art of active listening.
As you may have read in my latest editor’s letter in the April print issue, recently I lost my voice completely due a severe case of laryngitis. For 10 days my voice was reduced to a mere whisper so inaudible I resorted to expressing myself through paper when absolutely necessary, or just not talking at all.
I bring this up not to complain about it — I am extremely grateful the situation was only temporary. It is worth mentioning, however, because not being able to audibly voice my thoughts taught and reinforced a few lessons I feel are important to remember in both professional and personal settings.
The main lesson involves the art of active listening — and the impact that can be had by giving someone your full attention when they speak.
In his book “Search Inside Yourself,” author Chade-Meng Tan explains that our attention is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to others. “When we give our full attention to somebody, for that moment, the only thing in the world that we care about is that person, nothing else matters because nothing else is strong within our field of consciousness,” he writes. “What can possibly be a more valuable gift than that?”
I’ll admit, when I was in my early 20s I wasn’t always the best listener. Oftentimes when listening to someone, I would begin thinking of my response before they’d even finished fully expressing their train of thought. Or I’d change the subject as soon as they finished, versus asking following up questions and continuing the conversation they’d started.
Over the years I’ve been mindful of breaking that habit, but losing my voice again reinforced how important actively listening and giving someone my full attention are.
This lesson is one your staff should be mindful of as well. With your sales team, for example, are your staff actively listening to why a prospect walked through your gym’s doors? Or are they too preoccupied with giving a club tour and sales pitch? Although both the club tour and sales pitch are important, it is also vital that the prospect feels heard and as if they have your salesperson’s full attention.
The art of active listening can prove beneficial at all stage of a member’s journey. Is this a lesson you’re teaching your staff, and practicing as well?
Rachel Zabonick is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.