Retail Competency: Listening

#Retail Competency: Listening

Listening is one of the more important personal skills you can possess in retail and one of the most under-used and/or under-developed competencies.

In 2015 we have made some major changes to the way we work in our company by ensuring that we are providing an open forum for our team members to communicate with us and we have made a commitment to them to actively listen and have dialogue around how we can all improve workplace culture. We have implemented programs such as the “Stay Interview” program, which has been a huge success for our business and our employees and our Peer-To-Peer Recognition Program which allows us to truly hear, react, and respond to their needs and ideas.

Active listening means that you are practicing dedicated listening and processing what other have said, leaving people comfortable that they have been able to articulate their thoughts completely. Active listening means you do not interrupt, paraphrase, or interpret their words for your own point-of-view. Listening doesn’t mean that you accept what the speakers is saying but that you have committed to allowing them to verbalize their perspective and position on a topic so that their can be educated conversations in the workplace.

Here is a great article from Skills You Need that covers the “10 Principals Of Listening”. Here are the points:

(1) Stop Talking
(2) Prepare Yourself To Listen: Relax
(3) Put The Speaker At Ease
(4) Remove Your Distractions (100% Focus On What is Being Said)
(5) Empathize
(6) Be Patient (Don’t Take A Pause As A Cue To Start Speaking)
(7) Avoid Personal Prejudice (Try To Be Impartial)
(8) Listen To Their Tone
(9) Listen For Ideas – Not Just Their Words
(10) Wait and Watch For Non-Verbal Communication Cues

Here are signs that you are actively listening:

Non Verbal:
(1) Smile
(2) Eye Contact
(3) Posture
(4) Mirroring
(5) Focus/Lack of Distraction

(1) Positive Reinforcement
(2) Remembering
(3) Relevant Questions
(4) Clarification
(5) Being Able To Summarize

As leaders we need to be objective and set the standard for strong/active listening. Our employees will follow our lead. Here are some common issues that you may be identify that subconsciously effect how we listen to people:

-They are disorganized and fail to keep their thoughts straight
-They want to chat instead of getting to the point
-They are malcontents and just want to complain
-They infuse their statement with personal opinion instead of being objective
-They gossip and behave inappropriately
-Excessive use of profanity
-You have already established an opinion on the topic and will not entertain a point-of-view different from your own
-You don’t like them – either personally or professionally, it is habit to “tune them out”

According to For Your Improvement [FYI]: A Guide For Development And Coaching, here are some of the common causes of challenged listening habits:

-Lack of Caring
-Don’t Value Others
-Selective Listening
-Too Busy

All of these things are very real impediments to effective listening . This is an area, if it is an opportunity for you, can really only be self-developed. You have to put focus and effort in to be better at listening to your co-workers, that is not a skill that anyone else can help you develop. It takes an individual to personally identify that this is an area that they need to work on and put into practice the principals above to improve this super important competency.

One of the reasons I am writing on this topic and I have been speaking to so many of my team members about this lately is that it is a skill I have to improve in 2016 and that I have made a personal commitment to be a better listener and to really manage the quality of content that I share to ensure I am verbally delivering value to those who have to listen to me next year.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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