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Hotel Management Tips - The Power of a Good Listener

By Jack A. Turesky
December 16, 2011

I have been the President of The Hamister Group, Inc. - a hotel and healthcare management company - for the last 15 years of a 27-year career with the same organization. One of the most important lessons that I have learned over the years is the importance of good listening skills.  When I speak of “listening skills,” I mean more than just listening well to what is being said.  What I really mean is:
  • Starting with the easy stuff: don't over talk.  This is hard for most people because they are so anxious to tell their thoughts, recommendations or directions.  Not only is this impolite, but this frequently frustrates the other person who cannot finish a thought/sentence, which is, of course, important to that person.  Try something like counting to 3 before you speak when you think the other person is done.
  • Next, digest the information being conveyed.  Think it through, apply common sense, and be sure that you really understand what is being communicated.  Listen not just to the words, but observe body language, facial expressions and the tone of the voice.  What are the other observations telling you?  Are you cross-referencing the words and the visual/audible observations?  What does the total picture say to you?
  • After the person has completed whatever it is he or she want to say and you have fully digested the words and the observations, pause before you speak.  This will give the other person an opportunity to add, alter, delete or modify something he or she has said out of emotion, and the pause will allow them to potentially regroup and clarify something that might need further explanation. It also provides an opportunity for the other person to complete his or her thoughts as he or she may have only temporarily stopped because he or she anticipated that you were going to "interrupt anyway."  This will allow the other person to expend all their energy on vocalization, be fully prepared to listen to your response, and likely be a touch more receptive.
  • As part of your listening process, write down questions and points of discussion that you will ask.  I know that I've tried to remember such points during conversations but as I sat and attempted to recall them, my mind was more focused on what I was eventually going to say and not as much on what was being said in that moment.  That lack of attention will eventually show through and "disappoint" the other person: so do yourself the favor of taking notes during the listening process. In addition, write down the responses to your questions - it will show that you really care.
  • File the documentation strategically within your filing system so that you maintain your accountability.  The worst thing that you can do is lose track of the conversation and never address the issue(s) again.  You can easily forget to follow up because of the numerous things you have to do as a manager, but I guarantee that the other person will not forget. He or she may not say anything about this and just be disappointed in you and the company.   
  • You must follow up in some way.  Take action, make a change, ask some questions, or just send an e-mail.  As long as you take a positive step and let the other person know that what was said had an impact on you and warranted your attention, it will mean so much. You can't ever measure the full impact.
  • Finally, at the end of the initial interaction, take a bold step and commit to the other person what next steps should be anticipated, and when.  The responsibility will rest with you to ensure that those next steps are completed in a timely manner.  That takes courage, organization, drive, and a terrific work ethic.  If you have those skills, use them.  If not, you need to grow as a manager and develop those skill sets.
In closing, the last thing I would like to address as part of the definition of good listening skills is confidentiality.  I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen (heard) a manager talking to others about a conversation with another co-worker or a subordinate.  Although that might even seem like the right thing to do for “management” reasons, believe me, it is not.  Over time you will be labeled and even distrusted.  When you are not trusted by co-workers, your management career will stall because it takes a long time to rebuild that confidence and trust.

I’ve said for the last 20+ years that fine-tuned listening skills are the most valuable asset that a manager has - I still feel that way today, and I am continuously working to define and improve my own listening skills as well.

To communicate with Mr. Turesky -

The Hamister Group currently owns and manages 10 hotels, 3 in-patient facilities and 1 home health agency in New York, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Please visit for more information.
Jack A. Turesky
President & COO – The Hamister Group, Inc.
Williamsville, NY  14221
Office Phone: 716-839-4000

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