I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase: God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason – to listen first, then talk! So, as a leader, how good a listener are you?
Many people take their listening skills for granted. We often assume we’re listening and others know they are being heard. But many times that’s not the case. Then without warning there are misunderstandings, hurt feelings and conflicts that prevent people from working well together.
How many of these 10 behaviors can you say yes to?
1. I ‘m doing several things at once while others are talking to me.
2. I have a hard time concentrating on what is being said.
3. I am annoyed when someone slows me down.
4. I think what I want to say next rather than is being said.
5. I don’t like it when someone questions my ideas or actions.
6. I’m impatient waiting for the person to finish talking.
7. I give advice before the other has fully explained the situation.
8. I tend to talk significantly more than the other person talks.
9. I don’t know at the end of some conversations what it was about..
10. I’m uncomfortable and don’t know what to do if the speaker expresses emotions.
1-3: Take a bow. You appear to be a good listener. But don’t rest on your laurels. Continue being attuned to others
4-7: Push forward. You doing OK but can improve. Pick one or two of the above statements to work on and 1 or 2 of the tops below to practice.
8-10: Don’t lose hope. You can become a good listener. First it takes intention (realizing it’s an important skill for leaders ) and then practice (applying the tips below on a regular basis.).
How to boost listening skills:
1. Limit distractions. Silence technology and move away from distraction so that you can pay full attention to the other person.
2. Focus on the moment. Pay attention to what is being said, not what you want to say. Set a goal of being able to repeat the last sentence the other person says.
3. Be ok with silence. Count to ten or twenty before replying. The other person may continue and it also gives you a chance to collect your thoughts.
4. Ask before you tell. Encourage the other person to offer ideas and solutions before you give yours. And be open to other perspectives.
5. Summarize. Restate the key points to make sure what you heard are accurate. “You suggested……is that correct?”
6. Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand or are confused, don’t just nod your head and smile. “I’ve missed something, somewhere; can you go back to …”
7. Remember, follow the 80-20 rule. Do 80 percent of the listening and 20 percent of the talking.
Management Success Tip:
Listen actively to people around you, especially those who challenge your ideas. “I listen carefully even to the opinions that totally contradict my own beliefs. i want to make sure that when I make my decisions, I hadn’t missed anything.”
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- Copyright © 2012 Marcia Zidle business and leadership coach.