For those who grew up with siblings, the phrase “listen for the love” may be especially familiar. Big sister telling you what to do (perhaps trying to keep you safe)? Listen for the love. Brother asking more questions than you wish he would? Listen for the love.
In product development, as in family life, we’re often challenged to listen for the love. While not always easy, doing so is key to working collaboratively to solve problems, evolve ideas, and deliver software people – well – love.
The key to listening with love? The product managers, design engineers, and back-end developers at Revelry suggest these three keys:
1. Listen with Intention
- Step away from distractions, so that you can focus fully on what your client, colleague, or end user wants to share. This means silencing your cell phone and Slack / email notifications, stepping away from other work, and focusing exclusively on the person speaking.
- Make eye contact. This shows you’re paying attention and interested in what the other person has to say.
- Be (and remain) present. Don’t try to multitask, or think about what you’re going to say next or what you have to do later. Instead, focus on the conversation at hand…what is being shared in that moment.
2. Listen to Understand
- Be patient. Sometimes even the most experienced professional needs to gear up to share their ideas, feelings, and opinions, especially if there is concern about how they’ll be received. Don’t rush them.
- Don’t interrupt. This suggests you’re not really listening and more interested in talking than in hearing what the other person has to say.
- Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. These can often tell you more about what your client, teammate, or end user is feeling than their words. If you’re having feedback / review or brainstorming conversations via Slack or a Github ticket, consider shifting to a Zoom / Google Chat or in-person format.
3. Listen to Learn
- Ask questions to clarify what you’re hearing. This shows you’re engaged in the conversation and genuinely interested in understanding the other person’s product ideas and perspective.
- Summarize what you’ve heard to make sure you understand. This helps ensure you’re on the same page as the other person and that there are no misunderstandings.
- Welcome all feedback and ideas, as well as the opportunity to collaborate to deliver the best software solution possible. Don’t take feedback personally. Listen for the love. And remember we’re better together.
Listening with intent, listening to understand, and listening to learn are all essential skills for software developers – whether you’re a PM, a UI / UX expert, a back-end engineer, or a tech leader. By listening for the love in these three ways, you can improve your communication skills and become a better consultant, colleague, and collaborator.
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