Musings of a PR Professional



Are you listening to me?

Just moments ago I finished reading chapter seven in my Interpersonal Communication textbook, Listening: Understanding and Supporting Others. This is a chapter that every single PRo out there who is just beginning to get their feet wet (or has been dabbling for a while) should read and become extremely familiar with.

According to the text, we spend 70% of our time communicating every day, and 45% of that listening.

Because the name of the game in Public Relations (thanks to social media)  now is cultivating and maintaining authentic and personalrelationships, listening needs to be understood as something more than hearing. It is one of the fundamental skills one needs to have to create the successful and beneficial relationships every PRo strives for. Listening effectively involves giving thoughtful attention to what someone is discussing both when their message is significant to you and/or when a person that is important to you is talking about something that is significant to them. I have summarized the most important ways to listen effectively (as outlined in the text):

  • Eliminate the physical and psychological noise in the evnioronment in which you are listening.
  • Give the person speaking your undivided attention, and when your mind begins to wander, take note of it and get back on track.
  • Give the person the appropriate feedback for the situation.

The third bullet is one of the most important tenets of effective listening. It is in the responses we give people while we are listening that signal to them how we really feel. Now, let’s apply this idea to building the relationships between organizations and their stakeholders. In the blogoshpere, it is appropriate to comment and provide relevant and sometimes heuristic feedback to the author’s posts. It shows you are engaged in who they are and what they are talking about, so that when the opportunity arises to pitch to them, you are not some self-serving stranger coming out of left field. You will be much more well received because you will have become a friend.

The Buzz Bin blog of Livingston Communications expands on the idea of connecting with people further in their latest post.

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