Listen Attentively Respond Accordingly (LARA)

Do you hear what I am saying?

Are you hearing what I am saying?

We are trying to start a new job search acronym that we hope goes viral and transforms interview rooms across America and maybe the world.  That acronym is LARA.  It stands for Listen Attentively Respond Accordingly and you can say you heard it hear first–unless you’ve heard it elsewhere.  If you did, please let me know because I googled it and was shocked not to find it somewhere in the first five pages.

I’m shocked because with all of the job tips out there, I believe that this one should be at the forefront of every candidate’s mind when they sit down for an interview.  After all, we are supposed to be in the age of communication.  We have all of the tools necessary to deliver a message, but they’re  all pointless if they are not received and no feedback is given.  Keeping LARA in mind can help prevent that.  Try it and see.

The next time you’re in a conversation make sure you’re doing your best to really listen to what the other person is saying.  If you’re not clear, ask for clarification and then respond to them in a way that conveys that you understood them and have given your answer some thought.  If this isn’t a common practice, you will notice immediate differences in people’s responses toward you.  You may also notice that there are a lot more barriers to communication than you may have been aware of previously.

The number one barrier you should be mindful of is assumptions.  As noted in the Breaking Down Barriers… article by  Aysha Schurman, “Effective communication can never take place if someone is busy making assumptions.”  However, there is a catch 22 when it comes to job interviews.  After all, a job interview is generally nothing less than a conversation based entirely on assumptions with the job description serving as an assumption checklist.  As a result, by not employing LARA, there can be an increased likelihood of miscommunications.  As a job seeker trying to get noticed and get hired, it usually falls on you to reposition the conversation so that your interviewer sees beyond the job description. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Address the major assumptions up front.  This creates a space for LARA to be effective.  Until they are addressed, assumptions will prevent meaningful value-added conversation from taking place.
  2. Introduce new information into the dialogue.  This gives everyone involved something to move on to after the “assumption checklist” is completed.
  3. Create your own assumptions with a well managed social media presence. If your profiles are reviewed, you can almost guarantee that your interview will be personalized rather than a standard plug and play format. (To learn more attend our free upcoming webinar.)
  4. Develop well thought out, open-ended questions that address the organization’s future in their industry. This is your chance to be the interviewer and demonstrate your ability to think strategically. This is LARA’s place in the sun. If you ask questions they never considered, they just may have to hire you to come up with an answer.

When it’s all said and done, full communication does not occur until what has been transmitted is received and confirmed through feedback.  Consider LARA to be the operator in this scenario.  As all of us have undoubtedly experienced–in job interviews and in life–there are times when what you believe you are saying is not what the recipient hears.   By employing LARA you can take command of the conversations you participate in and keep them on track.

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4 Responses to “Listen Attentively Respond Accordingly (LARA)”

  1. Jayme C. Rucker Says:

    Brilliant I love this! LARA is the number one key to effective communication. When I started recruiting in 2000 at Richard Wayne and Roberts I learned during my training to NEVER make assumptions and listen 80% of the time and only talk 20% of the time. LARA is the key!

  2. Jayme,

    Thanks for your comments. Pass LARA around as much as you can. It’s good for both sides of the interview table. And actually, small acts like LARA go along way toward global recovery in all markets–job, financial, etc.

  3. When I was teaching at a Community College, I gave a presentation called “Effective Listening Techniques When Helping Others” and I believe much of that information applies across the board from education to job seeking.

    One book I highlighted in my presentation was “Messages”, by McKay, David and Faning, originally this was one of my textbooks while working on my BABS degree. In this excellent book, they state:”Real listening is based on the intention to do one of four things: a) understand someone, b) enjoy someone, c) learn something, d) give help and solace.” They describe four steps to effective listening techniques and detail important facts about total listening.

    “Interplay”, another one of my textbooks from college, by Adler, Rosenfeld and Towne, gave more excellent information regarding listening and communication. They site a study by Byrnes and Yamamoto (1981:343) that basically states that “listening–at least effectively–is quite different from merely hearing a message. It requires effort and talent.”

    With regards to the job search, listening carefully to what an interviewer is asking is essential to answering the questions intelligently. If you aren’t sure what they are asking, be sure to ask them for clarification. Understand there are different interviewing techniques, some meant to stump you. For example, one interviewee was asked: “If you could be a dog, what breed would you be?” To the interviewee, this seemed like a silly question, however, the answer may speak volumes. It should not be answered flippantly.

    Listen carefully for the many ways you might be stumped or tripped up, don’t assume you understand fully every question they pose to you. Pause before answering. If, for example, you said to the interviewer asking the question about the dog breed, “…oh, I’d like to be a Blood Hound and sleep my day away”, that wouldn’t put you in a good light. The interviewer may think you are a lazy person based on that particular answer. But, if you responded by saying, “I’d like to be Golden Retriever because they are friendly, energetic and intelligent dogs”, that statement shows you value being friendly, energetic and intelligent.

    I liked the LARA you presented, easy to remember.

  4. Judy,

    Thank you for your well thought and well referenced comment. Your blog http://workforcedevelopment.edublogs.org/ looks very insightful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Visit again soon.

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