TAG Consulting


Listen Like A Bat

I am profoundly deaf in my left ear and have high-normal hearing in my right.

This is medical jargon to say I cannot hear at all with my left ear and I can with my right.

I am sure this seems like a weird way to start a conversation, and yet, this I often have to.

Even when I clearly hear a sound, unless I am looking at the source I have no idea from where that sound is coming. If I do not communicate my hearing loss during the relationship building phase, I run the risk of offending someone simply because I cannot hear him and he thinks that I am actively ignoring him.

This is where I find myself supremely jealous of the amazing gift that bats were given – echolocation.

Echolocation is the location of objects by reflected sound. While none of us at TAG are bats (or even vampires), we do practice and teach the principles of echolocation. You can “locate” your team’s engagement if you are intentionally listening to the responses you receive.

This is important because healthy organizations have thriving cultures characterized by listening – and hearing.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. Imagine yourself walking down the hall in your office and seeing a member of the team you lead.

Example 1
You (in a genuinely cheerful voice): Hi. How was your weekend?

Team Member (in an equally cheerful voice): It was great! Thanks for asking. How was yours?

Do you think this team member is engaged – with you; with your organization; with what she does at work each day?

What is the response that you are getting back telling you?

What if this is the way this person responds each day, to every interaction?

Example 2
You (in a genuinely cheerful voice): Hi. How was your weekend?

Team Member (in a distracted, hurried voice): It was fine.

What about now?

What is the response that you’re getting back telling you about the “location” of this team member’s engagement? Are they disengaged or in danger of becoming so?

By listening intentionally and then actively participating in further conversation, we have a better chance of reversing disengagement before it becomes a problem that impacts the entire organizational culture.

And finally, Example 3
You (grouchy and irritated): Hi, how are you?

Team Member: Uh… I’m fine… Thanks for asking?

Is this team member responding with fear or apprehension? What is the level of engagement based on this response?

We all have bad days. But, we also have the ability to get a reading on the level of engagement with our team. We can reduce miscommunication and disengagement through actively listening to what is being echoed back to us so we know when we should be having more intentional conversations to prevent eroding our organizational culture.

We may not have the gift of the bat, but we can (and should) certainly practice “engagement echolocation” with every communication.

Carrie Root is a Client Service Coordinator with TAG Consulting