What key skill should every senior executive (and anyone aspiring to be one someday) master? The art of listening. John helps us understand why this is so important. How can you improve your listening skills this week? (We all can!) – InPower Editors
Several people asked me recently what the most common goals of my clients are.
When I explain that patient listening, that is, listening to learn and understand, is probably the single most common, many seem surprised. It’s true though. While everyone seems to think they are an attentive listener, few of us really are.
Why is this so often the case? First, most of us tend to have problem solving minds, we do not focus on what a person is saying, what she may not be saying, and her feelings.
Second, we have shortened attention spans. The instant news environment has affected us, and we can’t keep focus long. For example, I’ve noticed that in meetings, after just a few minutes, people are looking down at their lap – where sits their smart phone. They are half listening while they read texts. And I must admit, I am so inclined myself.
In addition to lacking focus, we are too busy in general. We spend too much time at our computer, looking at our smart phone, or using our iPads when we’re with other people, often so that we can multi-task and get more done.
As I was thinking about common client goals, such as the patient listening, and how I might be more effective as a leadership coach, I composed a wish list for my clients, friends—and myself to address these goals head on.
- Improve our ability to listen attentively, to learn and understand.
- To slow down, disconnect from all the busyness and connect with the person(s) with us. Walk the halls, ask how people are doing, ask for their ideas, ask what help they need, and thank them for all they do.
- To address issues, the difficult ones. We lose the respect of our team members when we permit negative energy to continue.
- Have more conversations, real conversations. Share our thoughts and feelings, and invest 80% of the conversations in listening, 20% in speaking.
- Follow up and follow through; do what we say we will. Address our priorities.
- Pick up the phone, make calls. Realize that connecting is not nearly as effective via email and messaging.
- Gain control of our emails, not letting them control us by having us worry about what we’re not doing or what we are missing, or should we be whenever we are now. Learn an effective system that works for you.
There’s one more important goal for my wish list. Many people with whom I work tell me they feel they would be so much more effective if they had a greater sense of inner confidence, that they are sometimes in situations where they are hesitant to speak up, to share what they really think, and that is very limiting. I totally agree with this need. The number of the people with whom I am privileged are so talented and capable and yet do not accept that about themselves, that they are true leaders already, just as they are.
Originally on: Common Sense Leadership
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