Give the Gift of Listening
Listening enables us as leaders and mangers to value our employees. It helps people get the most out of meetings and conversations. True listening promotes cooperation. It assumes the other person has worth, dignity and something to offer.
Some benefits to increasing your listening include: building cohesive teams of people, developing individuals to be better contributors, making solid decisions, knowing how to connect with others and creating an atmosphere of reduced stress. When people reflect on their best boss a frequent response is that the person was a great listener. Listening is a gift that aids us in both personal and professional growth.
Training yourself to be a better listener can be challenging. Many people say “I should be a better listener” but do not take the time or effort necessary to improve. Listening is a skill that once we identify as a deficit in ourselves, we can consciously work to change.
Here are some suggestions for improving listening as outlined by the newsletter Leading for Results:
- Learn to want to listen. You must have a desire, interest, self-discipline and concentration to be a good listener.
- Be present. Watch for the tendency to daydream. If the conversation is taking place in your office avoid distractions such as your computer, loose papers, etc. that will take you away from this mindful state.
- Take notes. They aid in retention.
- Become a “whole body” listener. Listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. Train yourself to notice the color of speaker’s eyes at the start of every conversation.
- Learn to keep the conversation going by using phrases such as: “I see” “I understand”. These phrases show that you are listening and encourage the other person to keep talking. They also, keep your attention focused.
- Ask questions instead of making statements. For example: Don’t say, “Bob, don’t forget the department report is due on Monday morning.” Instead say, “How is the department report coming along?” By starting this dialogue you will receive much more information.
Listening to others gives us the information needed to make the most of our communication. Listening to ourselves gives us the information to act in our own best interests.
As we work to achieve self-awareness of our listening abilities, we will soon discover that it brings great interpersonal power. Effective listening allows us to concentrate and find the most valid information. It enables us to act in the best interest of our team, our organization, our customers and ourselves.