Listening is a critical skill in any leadership setting for two reasons. First, listening allows the leader to collect information which can help the individual, team or organisation to succeed. Second, listening and respecting confidentiality allows the leader to create trusting relationships with others.
Are You Listening to Win?
Consider the following:
- Do you try to understand what others think before making judgments?
- Do you authentically encourage people to share their views?
- Are you good at thinking of things through others perspective?
- Are you able to accept constructive feedback and make necessary changes in my coaching behavior?
Steps to Winning Listening
If you answered no to the above, it’s okay. The good news is that listening is a skill that can be learned. Here are seven steps we can all practice to become better listeners with others.
- Be in the moment: If you don’t have the time or energy to listen in the moment, set a time when you can give your undivided attention.
- Set the tone: Show your person that you are open to hearing by using relaxed words and body language.
- Pay attention: Make a mental decision to listen carefully. Show your interest with eye contact and relaxed body language.
- Withhold judgment: Try to be open to new ideas and constructive criticism. If your thoughts are turning into opinions, take a breath and suspend judgment until after hearing the person through. Even when good listeners have strong views, they suspend judgment, hold their criticism and avoid arguing or selling their point right away.
- Reflect & clarify: Paraphrase what you heard the speaker say, and ask clarifying questions to make sure you really understand.
- Share: As you gain a clear understanding of what the person is saying, begin to introduce your thoughts and feelings on the matter. If possible, talk about a time when you or someone you know was in a similar situation. Be brief.
- Problem solve: Use your judgment to decide how best to go about encouraging the speaker to solve the issue presented. The best approach will depend on the individual and the overall situation.
Remember that “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” Diogenes.