Got 45 seconds? You can use it to improve your relationship with that difficult coworker!

biz time to listenIf you’ve got 45 seconds, you can use it to improve your relationship with that difficult coworker– by listening.

Listening isn’t difficult, per se, but people often tell me that they don’t do it because they think it takes too much time.

I understand this mindset. I really do. I mean we live in a hurried world. Busy busy busy. No time to stop and listen. Go go go. Gotta get a move on here. Hurry up and get to the point already! We’re multitasking constantly, with no time to pause, and it’s become something of a survival skill.

The idea of stopping long enough to fully listen can seem–well, just not possible.

But the reality is that effective listening doesn’t take long at all! In fact, according to Rebecca Sharif, neurotherapist & language pathologist and author of “The Zen of Listening: Mindful Listening in the Act of Distraction,” if people are listened to for only 45 seconds without interruption they feel they have been heard.  Only 45 seconds!


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Your 45 seconds of listening benefits you and the speaker– it can greatly improve the relationship!

  • When you listen, you get to fully understand your coworker’s issue and therefore respond effectively when it’s your turn to speak.
  • Your listening behaviour speaks volumes about you—about your respectfulness, professionalism, ability to tune in and be mindful with others, and your competence in modelling positive behaviour.
  • Listening makes the speaker feel valued and respected. And hear this–you don’t even need to agree with your coworker for him to feel valued and respected. You just need to listen to him.
  • If you listen to your colleague for the full span of her message, she is much more likely to listen to you fully when it’s your turn to speak.
  •  Listening also tends to take the edge off, and vent, release, or reduce any heightened emotion in the speaker.  A calmer head is likely to prevail when your fired up coworker feels he has been completely and fully listened to while he tells you about what’s making him angry!

Feel like 45 seconds is too long?

biz waste of timeResearch suggests we tend to interrupt at about the 20 second mark.  But it’s the not listening, the jumping in to speak after 20 seconds, that is actually what wastes the most time!

Think about the time that is wasted in repeating the message and repairing the relationship because there was no listening the first time–it could take minutes instead of seconds and maybe even require multiple interactions.

Consider the unnecessary amount of time wasted when a message is recounted and reworded and replayed and restated and retold (you get my point) because the message was not heard the first time.

Not listening also creates more tension and frustration in the interaction– and so more time must then be spent now or later to mend the relationship.

You can do it—it’s only 45 seconds!

Have a difficult coworker and want to improve your relationship with him or her? Engage in dialogue with her and start by listening, really listening.  Let your coworker speak.  Resist jumping in. Allow the silence if there is any. Learn to be ok with the pause to allow him to express his whole message.

Your 45 second investment can pay big dividends!

I’m listening and I’d love to hear from you. Please submit your comments below. Thank you!


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