If you are a leader and you are leaving listening out of your communication skill set, your career is hindered. Because better leadership starts with better listening
One of the most common misconceptions I have encountered is that it’s possible to be a better leader without having good listening skills. Most leaders tend to assume listening is basically the same as hearing. It is a dangerous misconceptions leading us to believe that better listening is instinctive. As a result, we make little to no effort to develop our listening skills and unknowingly neglect a vital communication skill, thereby denying ourselves the opportunity to genuinely connect with others and drive better outcomes with ease.
So, we create unnecessary problems: frustration, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, quarrels, confusion, low engagement, loss of important information, and poor outcomes.
What is better listening
Listening is a much more sophisticated mental process than the ability to perceive sounds through our ears (hearing). It involves a special disposition where our nonjudgmental and uninterrupted attention focuses to what the speaker is saying -we listen for messages as well as meanings contained in the verbal communication.
Listening became a forgotten skill. With so much noise bombarding us every day, we become very good at filtering and hearing only what we want to hear. However, we can practice becoming a better listener in all situations with some effort. Here are 8 ways to improve your listening skill:
- Stop thinking ahead to what you are going to say.
- Avoid multitasking (for example, talking on the phone while talking to someone in the room).
- Don’t interrupt, but ask questions if something is unclear.
- Focus on the speaker closely by establishing eye contact but do not get in a “power stare.”
- Do not let delivery or appearance distract you.
- Listen for ideas, not just for facts.
- Listen with an open mind, not just for what you want to hear.
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues and what is not said.
Practice your listening
Listening is not easy, but effective leadership starts with better listening. Therefore, we should work on our listening skill, just as we would any other communication skills. Practicing the following exercises may help sharpen your listening skills:
- After a conversation with someone in which you were primarily a listener, try summarizing what the speaker said immediately.
- In note-taking situations, look at the speakers and really listen to them; then record the main ideas.
- Practice paraphrasing others as they speak, but do not interrupt them.
- Listen to something primarily factual (e.g. a news story) and then try to summarize what you have heard.
Leaders who want to become agents of change connect with others openly and honestly. They have emotional intelligence. They are good listeners. They are sincerely interested in others and they show it, whether connecting to others in person individually or in groups or through the numerous electronic channels available today.
Are you ready to transform your workplace communication style, so that you become an engaged leader who empowers others using the power of conversation?
Hey, I’m Eleni and I’m a certified executive communication coach and strategist with a PhD in Linguistics, who has been studying how people’s behavior is influenced by the way they talk and communicate since 2005.
Using practices, methods, and techniques backed by scientific research in linguistics and coaching psychology, I’ll help you build confidence and competence in your unique communication skills, so that you get not only seen, but heard and recognized as a leader in your workplace.
So, if you’re a leader, professional, or coach who is ready to stop trying to figure it all out yourself and crack the code to getting your voice heard, successfully transforming your communication style: