“Listening” The Greatest Leadership Gift All By Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
When I participated in my Alliance Partner’s listening program I gained some great insights into the overall affects of really listening to others. As a trained coach I had already developed some pretty good listening habits and like most things in life there is a way to take it to the next level. I still remember and apply her tips for listening.
What I learned was one of the most common mistakes people make is to finish other people’s sentences. Effective leaders are busy and often want to move the conversation along more quickly. Unfortunately this can be interpreted as rude or arrogant. This can be very annoying to the speaker and can create unnecessary tension and cause others to disconnect. The greatest gift anyone in a leadership role can do is to give their employees the experience of being heard. This is particularly important in a sales or customer service role when there is an issue to be resolved. Customers want to feel you listened to them!
Listening effectively can substantially reduce misunderstanding and costly mistakes. Have you ever been in a hurry and given instructions to someone and what they did was not what you asked for? I know it has happened to me more than once. Think of the mistakes that can be avoided by actively listening and paraphrasing back your understanding.
Here are some tips on listening more effectively:
- Demonstrate you are listening with your body – relax, make eye contact and use appropriate gestures to indicate you are engaged
- Set your intention to listen and eliminate any distractions
- Your listening intention affects how you perceive, and are perceived. Listen with the intention of connecting with the speaker
- Ask an open ended question that will deepen the understanding of what is being said
- Paraphrase for understanding
- Remember you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. There will be times that you are the talker and will want others to listen to you. Give what you want to get.
Since taking the program and identifying where I needed to improve I make a conscious choice to listen more empathetically and actively. Often a sales call the person I am meeting with will share with me personal things and it is like our conversation is happening in a bubble. We seem to connect at a very different level and they will often say “I don’t know why I am sharing this with you.” I personally believe it is because we created great rapport and truly listened to one another. Like my title says “It IS the greatest gift we can give to another person.” Start to really pay attention to how you listen and practice some of the tips above and experience the difference.