• Read The (more subtle than we realize) Art of Listening

    Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership

    The (more subtle than we realize) Art of Listening

    Recently I was helping facilitate a program on coaching for leaders, and on day 1 we spent quite a bit on time on the subject of listening.  You may wonder why, considering it’s something we do every day and most of us think we’re more than competent when it comes to this skill. Think again. “This is hard!” “I keep wanting to butt in and offer my thoughts or advice.”  I so appreciated the honesty and vulnerability from the participants.  The bottom line is that most of us are average at best when it comes to this skill.  And the problem is if you’re a leader looking to inspire and motivate your team to greatness, average just won’t cut it. This reminds me of a story from many years ago.  I was speaking with someone who was known in the organization I was working for at the time to be a great leader.  A fantastic reputation, the kind of person people sought out to join their team.  So I asked this individual, what’s your secret.  I was expecting something magnanimous, something I’d never thought of before. Some simple but not easy advice on listening The response caught me by surprise.  “I give whatever or whomever is in front of me 100% of my attention.” I was underwhelmed to say the least.  But they were really on to something.  Because the reality of how we show up is often quite different.  Let’s take the following scenario:  Someone pokes their head in your office – “Do you have a minute?”  They ask. “Sure!” you say, wanting to sound interested and helpful.  You’re the boss that cares.  You’re approachable.  People like you. They walk in and your eyes are still on the email you were in the middle of writing.  Your thoughts are still halfway consumed by it.  You’re unaware you’re doing this.  You’re halfway listening to what they’re expressing.  You’re nodding your head in agreement, eager to get back to your draft.  They leave and you carry on, you barely notice the interaction and later you forget all about it until they awkwardly remind you of what you’d agreed to in that moment.  Listening isn’t an innate thing we can take for granted.  It’s a skill.  And just like any skill there is a methodology to it and we must practice it. The levels of Listening Level 1 – Halfway listening.  In the previous example the manager I mentioned was listening at the equivalent of level 1.  They’re halfway there, they’re caught up in their head in something else.  They really didn’t have the time for the interaction but instead of setting a boundary and asking the person to please come back later, they acquiesce.  The result is they’re not present, they’re not tuned in, and the person on the receiving end of the conversation knows it.  The employee with the question leaves disengaged and slightly annoyed.  People know when they’re not being listened to.  Another version of level 1 is what […]

    March 16, 2023

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    5.4 min read