Most people would say, “Sure, I listen if …”
- It’s something that interests me.
- The speaker is engaging.
- The boss is saying something that I need to hear.
But listening selectively doesn’t work.
Poor listening skills are the #1 reason for poor communication today! It impacts everything, everywhere in our lives, careers, and businesses…and leads to poor results.
There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak. Simon Sinek
You’re not listening when you are …
- Engaging with the internal chatter in your head
- Thinking about other things to do
- Replaying old upsets (Hint: listening can resolve them)
- Creating a new job and not engaged in the one you have
The costs of not listening are many. A select few include:
- Teamwork and comradery are lost
- New ideas and opportunities are missed
- Logical discernment and cost-saving processes are overlooked
- Trust — people feeling valued and respected disappears
8 Tips to Improve Your Listening and Your Results
1. Set Aside Your Ego. It’s the #1 reason you don’t listen. You believe you know-it-all or have already heard it! The truth is, you haven’t. Stop finishing people’s sentences or ideas. Not only is this rude, but you’re also usually incorrect. When your team does not speak up to correct you…you lose time and cost-saving ideas.
Max was a CFO for a large company. He had an uncanny ability to listen and sought out others’ ideas and opinions before making decisions. He didn’t just rely on executives’ opinions, he talked with others that would be impacted too. As a result, his decisions were better accepted and easier to implement. He’d learned the value of listening early in his career and believed it built trust. He was right!
2. Deep Dive. Hearing a tidbit of info and expanding and expounding on it isn’t listening. It’s your ego at work … and often it can be wrong. Listening and asking questions are part of developing critical thinking skills.
3. Stop the Internal Chatter. You have an internal chatterbox. (We all do!) It operates full-time every day, and many times keeps you awake at night too. Learn to meditate and disengage from mental chatter. Now, use these skills for listening.
4. Be Present. Focus and concentrate in the moment when interacting with others. This simple, but rarely used, listening practice makes all experiences more authentic and meaningful. Bonus … others will feel and see the difference too!
5. Set Aside Your Point of View. Set aside mental ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ about the person, task, or situation. This gets in the way of listening and hearing more than the words said. The creation of new ideas begins by listening and engaging in “Tell me more.”
Sabrina, a project manager had tons of experience and so she didn’t listen to anyone that didn’t agree with her. She said, “no” more than, “Tell me more.” As a result, she lost the trust of her team. They felt disrespected. In turn, they only did the work necessary making it difficult for Sabrina to execute customer projects. They also blamed her for not listening to them whenever something went wrong.
6. Don’t Shoot the Messenger. This metaphoric phrase is used to blame the bearer of bad news. (Wikipedia) Be willing to hear what you don’t want to hear. This. Is. Critical. (Yes, it’s hard, but worth the effort.) It will improve your results, save time and money, and have others feel respected. Also, it will save your job and career.
7. Show Me. Many people are not confident when sharing their concerns. They’ve learned that others don’t want to listen. So, if you’re not clear, don’t dismiss their concerns as unimportant. Instead, say, “Show me the concern.” Have the person physically show you from start to finish to ensure clarity.
8. Stop Multi-tasking. Everyone believes they are the exception to the rule and think they know how to multitask and listen at the same time. They don’t! This egocentric habit (lots of us have it) gets in the way of listening and paying attention to the details. When people need to repeat what they have already said, they don’t feel valued or respected. When you truly listen, it saves time and builds trust in you since you actually heard them!
Becky had a habit of sitting through “boring” meetings thumbing through her social media posts and texts. As a result, she missed her boss’s announcement about meeting with executive management. She didn’t show up prepared with the required 3-minute PPT and she attempted to wing-it. When asked by her boss why she didn’t come prepared, she said, “I’m too busy putting out fires.” His response was, “If you learned to listen, you wouldn’t have so many fires to extinguish.”
©Jeannette Seibly, 2021 All Rights Reserved
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. During the past 29 years, she has guided the creation of three millionaires and countless 6-figure income professionals. Her brags also include being an award-winning executive coach, management consultant, and keynote speaker. If you’re struggling to get unstuck, now is a great time to contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
A note from Jeannette about listening to succeed. The #1 communication skill overlooked today is listening! We are too focused on standing up and speaking up and forget to listen first! Contact me about providing the workshop, Everyone Is Talking, But No One Is Listening! for you and your leaders.