How do we listen as leaders? We listen through a filter—a filter that supports our feelings, thoughts and opinions about the person talking, the person or situation being gossiped about, or a topic we may or may not have an interest in. The bottom line is that we listen to see if we agree or disagree. As a result, we miss out on a lot of information that could give us insight to create positive and profitable changes. As leaders, we don’t have the luxury of not hearing what others are saying. Failure to listen will negatively impact our businesses, customers, employees and our own careers.
6 Ways to Listen to Understand
1.Quiet the Chatterbox. Everyone has an ongoing internal mental monologue that never stops, except when we sleep. We have become unconscious to it, yet it automatically reengages each time we are awake! Practice silence through meditation and pay attention to what you are thinking about. This will help you take charge of your chatterbox.
2.Be Present. Instead of rehearsing your rebuttal in your head, first listen to understand the other person’s point of view. When you are truly present to what is being said, you will know how to respond. Remember, you don’t need to fill silence with needless chatter as you think out loud. Ask questions to clarify what the other person is trying to convey, and engage in a dialogue. You will be amazed how quickly and easily you can become an active listener—and how rewarding it can be.
3.Put Away Distractions. This very bad habit gets in our way every time, particularly as leaders. Not only is multitasking a no-no, we lie to ourselves (and others) that we are really listening each time we glance at our electronic gadgets. When you get distracted from the person speaking, they assume you are not listening. Why? Because you’re not listening … you’ve allowed your mind to wander! Put away gadgets, papers and other distractions to keep you focused and in the conversation.
4.Build Win-Win Outcomes. Building agreement through conversation is not a lost art. It’s simply one that few practice. As a result, people become upset when others disagree with them. When conflicts erupt, employees will head for the cover of their cubicle, work, electronic gadgets, or they’ll check out of the conversation while sitting in the meeting. Instead, listen and build the habit of hearing what others are saying. You will find points of agreement. Acknowledge them and build on them.
5.Release Emotional Attachments. Remember, emotions take over common sense. Adding facts will help the conversation. However, when black-and-white data is not forwarding a conversation, share your thoughts and feelings by owning them (“I believe …” “I feel …” “In my opinion …”). Don’t be afraid to remind people that you are speaking from your own beliefs. If you’re open to releasing emotional attachments, you will expand your ability to see both sides of the topic being discussed.
6.Engage in Real Brainstorming. This lost art is truly lost when people grasp on to the first good idea or check out when a person in a position of power declares an idea to be the right one. It’s important to stay in the conversation and continue to toss out additional ideas. If not, you may be supporting a project or plan you (and others) don’t agree with. Use persuasive listening, facilitation and strong emotional intelligence skills to share your ideas and open up the conversation to create win-win-win results.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2018
Need a speaker or facilitator to successfully address company issues? As a leader, it’s very important to listen to understand. While this may seem like a difficult skill to acquire, contact Jeannette Seibly to refine your ability to be an effective communicator. She will provide confidential, laser-focused coaching that works!
Jeannette Seibly has been called a catalyst. She is celebrating 25 years as a business coach, advisor and consultant who guides her clients to achieve unprecedented results. Remember, listening to understand and utilizing persuasive listening skills are required to be a powerful leader. Are you ready? First, you must step up! Check out her website, or contact Jeannette for a preliminary confidential conversation.