What is listening?
When we listen to our children, spouse, parents, friends, pets, and co-workers it is important because they are our audience. For that reason, we listen in order to communicate with them. The same is true for corporate organizations. Take the case of for-profit organizations and nonprofit organizations. Each organization listens to its audience in order to communicate with them. In this case, listening is essential to:
- Helping to build rapport and trust.
- Developing relationships.
- Sustaining ongoing communications with an audience.
Why should we listen?
The future is why it is important to listen. Because almost every organization will face change and disruption they will have to make a decision. On one hand, an organization can ignore communications from their sources and hold onto their past. On the other hand, an organization can turn communications that are available to them right now into a competitive advantage.
What happens when we listen?
General listening can be holistic and can help many parts of an organization to discover what is not known.
- Can be ongoing.
- Is a good habit to form.
Specific listening for a purpose can help an organization focus on more defined issues such as:
- Reinventing the organization itself.
- To improve a program.
- To improve fundraising.
- To improve sales.
Once an organization has a willingness to listen, it can begin to get ready by putting in place the following items:
- A guide or a plan.
The listening plan the organization has put together will determine what audience types need listening to. Audiences can consist of internal audiences as well as external audiences. For example:
- Customers and members know a lot about the organizations they care about along with,
- Friends and partners of your organization,
- Industry reporting,
- Competitors, and
- Unfamiliar sources that are outside of the organization’s comfort zone such as giving weight to what grantors and volunteers have to say.
When I listen, I think about this truism, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” These words are often said by a board president that I know in the medical community. They remind me to keep an open mind.
Notably, listening can help an organization learn what it does not know. Another key point is that listening can strengthen the relationships an organization has with its audience. With this in mind, knowledge gathered by an organization that listens to its audience can be turned into a competitive advantage. To sum up, it is important for an organization to listen to its audience.
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Thank you for reading this article. I appreciate your time.
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