There’s a lot of talk today that no one listens anymore. If we all keep talking, how can anyone listen deeply? Maybe that’s the problem.
Whether we are interacting with leaders, co-workers, customers, or those in our personal relationships, connecting with people demands that we listen, but listen for what?
As a manager:
- For – my employees’ potential, skills, goals, failures, and desire to be part of the big picture.
As a leader:
- For – my co-workers’ hopes and desires, ideas, feedback, and honesty.
As people in relationships:
- For – my loved ones’ pain, joy, uncertainties and what they value.
Here are a few listening for techniques:
- Say less than you think you need to.
- Mirror back what you’re hearing – check your understanding and give the person a chance to hear what he or she is thinking.
- Use the person’s language, not yours.
- Give acute attention to the difference between the person’s words, tone of voice, and body language.
- Set aside your own judgments.
- Take the whole person in and not be distracted by what else is going on.
- Give time to listen. Don’t rush it or clock it.
- Practice, practice, practice.
Listening is one of the greatest gifts we receive in this life. So, bequeath someone with the gift of listening.
(With permission and adapted from “The Nitty-Gritty of Listening” by Jennifer Sellers and Sheri Boone from the book 52 Ways to Shift Any Outcome in Less Than a Minute – Practical Mindfulness for Leaders, 2011)