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9 Practical Principles
Charlie’s Thoughts on the Art of Leadership and Listening
- Hearing someone does not equate to listening to them
- Everyone has a “voice” and a need to be heard, understood and validated. Simply hearing the words does not ensure that you’re listening to the message
- Don’t react to the words, understand the meaning
- When having difficult or challenging conversations, it is better to understand the true meaning of the message, versus reacting to the specific words being used
- If you ask the question, be interested in the answer
- People like to share their opinions and perspective. Actively listening to those opinions and perspectives, especially when in response to your questions, shows you care as a leader. If you give the perfunctory greeting question “How are you,” take the time to actively hear the response.
- The opposite of talking isn’t always hearing; it’s often waiting: waiting to interrupt
- Interrupting another’s dialogue or words in order to voice your own thought or response will stifle effective communication. Wait your turn!
- Being a good listener doesn’t mean you’ll be a good leader; but a hallmark of a leader, is being a good listener
- Remove physical barriers; get out from behind the desk
- When meeting with staff, especially one-on-one, move from behind your desk. Doing so eliminates distractions of papers, computers and telephones and allows you to focus on the conversation and removes barriers to active listening
- Close the tablets and laptops and put away the smart phones
- These devices are great for taking notes and remaining “connected”; but they may also lead to distractions and inattention. How many times have you checked email, calendars or Facebook while in meetings?
- Actively listening costs nothing; not listening can be very expensive
- Nearly every workplace climate or culture study that I have seen during my career lists “communication” as an area requiring attention. A great deal of time, energy and effort is invested in improving communication systems, processes and channels; when often leadership not “listening” to staff is at the core of the actual problem.
- What does active listening look like?
- Make eye contact with those who are speaking
- Give positive reinforcement and appropriate feedback
- Remember what is said
- Ask appropriate follow-up questions
- Reflect on the words said to understand the meaning intended
- Clarify if you aren’t sure
- At the end, summarize what you heard to make sure you have it right