LEADERS! REMEMBER BEFORE YOUR NEXT MEETING, IT’S A VIRTUE TO TALK LESS
Every relationship, professional or personal needs a living connection to thrive. Nowhere is this true than in leadership. Nothing severs this connection than when leadership and its followers are not able to establish a clear line of understanding, and a clear line of understanding is built around people feeling understood.Leaders as a result of their responsibilities are often demanded to talk and get people to understand them.
However, they can find themselves in a precarious position when their communication precludes listening to others.
The greatest mistake any leader can make is to trivialize listening. The ability to articulate your view as a leader can become a weakness if not balanced with effective listening skills.
What then is good listening? Good listening is an active and disciplined activity of probing and challenging the information garnered from others to improve its quality and quantity. Good listening is the key to building a base of knowledge that generates fresh insight and ideas.Stephen Covey’s advocacy to “Seek first to understand before you are understood” is based on the premise that listening is foundational to understanding, and understanding is the pathway to meaning, cooperation, collaboration and advancement.A sober fact is that a good listening skill does not come naturally without some intentional efforts.
For leaders who understand the cost of not sharpening this skill and are willing to pursue effectiveness in listening, I recommend improvement in 3ways:
1. Show Respect
This is demonstrated in an ability to withhold judgment and stay in other people’s shoes to appreciate their world and return to your world to see if you can take the same judgment before you stayed in their shoes. This doesn’t mean avoiding tough questions but it does mean a regard for other people’s capacity to make unique contributions. This will ensure a genuine, free and open flow of information and ideas for the common good.
2. Keep Quiet
Maintain an 80/20 rule in your conversation. Listen 80% of the time. You can’t really be listening when you are busy talking or formulating what to say next. What most people call listening is just a temporary suspension of speech to formulate their next verbal torrent. Stop seeing conversations as an opportunity to tout your ideas. With patience and practice, you can learn to stifle your impulse to speak and avoid disrespectful interruptions.
3. Challenge Assumptions
With care and caution, be willing to challenge and be challenged on long-held and cherished assumptions. Be willing to tolerate ambiguity and open yourself up to new knowledge and possibilities. Avoid a know-it-all attitude especially when your cherished beliefs are being questioned or undermined.
Simply stated, it is counterproductive to focus on your own ideas during a conversation. Focus a great deal of your attention on what the other person wants to communicate. Good listeners tend to make better decisions based on better informed judgment and hence make better leaders.
There is absolute truth in the cliché that says God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen more than we speak.
LISTENING IS KEY! LISTENING IS A SKILL! LISTENING IS GOLDEN!