Are You Listening or Simply Hearing?

“To be a great boss, listen!” Jeannette Seibly

Listening and hearing are critical skills for every boss today. But they are not the same skill!

  • Listening is paying attention to a message to hear, understand, and physically or verbally respond to it.
  • Hearing is the process, function, or power of perceiving sound. (

When you listen to what your teams and employees say, you’ll gain respect, solutions, honesty, and better results. If you are hearing the words (like many bosses do), it’s not good enough. You will lose customers, top talent, and career opportunities. (The list is endless!)

Listening to Be a Great Boss

Be Present! Focus and stop multi-tasking. While listening, set aside electronics, negative feelings, replaying old conversations, and other distractions (e.g., people-watching). When listening or speaking, stay focused on the current discussion! You’ll be amazed by what you can learn, even if you believe you already know it all!

Breathe to Stop Triggers! When you notice you are triggered or offended, breathe in for 5 counts. Pause. Exhale for 5 counts. (Or any number that works for you.) Repeat this breathing pattern 3 times. Breathing reduces the fight, flight, or freeze stress response triggered in your brain. Note: If you need to do this often, discuss it with your executive coach and/or a therapist.

Let Them Finish! They’ve been rehearsing what they want to say for a while. If you cut them off because you’re impatient or think you know what they will say, they will start all over again … at the beginning! Since some people are poor communicators, they may ramble, lack clarity of what they want to say, or fear saying what they really want to say — help by inviting them to share the main point of what they want to say. Pay very close attention to your tone of voice – remember, you’re asking them, not ordering them.

Check Back! Being on the same page in a conversation is crucial to being considered a great boss and listener! When someone is finished sharing their thoughts or ideas, check back to be sure you heard them. Never assume you did! The best practice is to use the same words they used. For example, if they say “generous,” use the same word, not something else. Then ASK THEM, is this correct? Note: Refrain from using slang or inappropriate words since the conversation will be repeated with others!

Build on Their Ideas! Working together, take their ideas and build on them. This not only improves your results; it keeps others in the conversation. Be open to listening to their additional ideas, too.

Expand Your Perspective. Listen and honor differences! If you have difficulty listening to others’ points of view, you will limit your ability to be a great boss. Participate in training programs and workshops, and hire an executive coach to help expand your thinking. I have found that while qualified assessments significantly improve job fit, they also provide an ability to listen beyond your perception of what others can accomplish on the team!

©Jeannette Seibly 2023 All Rights Reserved

Jeannette Seibly is a champion for success. As a leader, do you have bosses that are difficult for teams to work with? Jeannette’s depth of experience and wisdom can transform those bosses from hated to respected! Contact Jeannette for a confidential discussion.

A note from Jeannette about listening to be a great boss: I’ve been saying this for years. Bosses need to listen beyond just hearing the words. It improves team members’ willingness and abilities to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and solutions! It starts with you and how you listen! Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation about being a great boss who listens! 

The coach is in! Are you ready to build your confidence and success as a boss? As a leader, do you have bosses that are difficult for teams to work with? Or are you one of those bosses? With my depth of experience and wisdom, I transform bosses from hated to respected! Contact me to learn more about my in-depth, one-on-one, customized coaching programs.

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