Leaders, in particular, often forget to listen, and fall into the trap of controlling the message without real, meaningful communication. Here’s what we’re missing when we don’t listen:
- The opportunity to learn something new
- Insights that may help us be more effective
- Context, which helps us make sense of situations
- An alternative perspective
- The opportunity to demonstrate respect for another person (whether you agree with that person or not)
Yet the reality is that the best communicators—and leaders—spend much of their time observing, absorbing and really listening to—and hearing—their employees. Listening can be as easy as 1-2-3. Here are a few strategies for becoming a more effective communicator through better listening:
- Stop talking.
- Suppress the inclination to think about what you are going to say next.
- Don’t multitask; focus closely on the speaker.
- Ask questions to ensure you understand.
- Paraphrase what you’re hearing.
- Listen with an open mind, not for what you want to hear.
- Pay attention to what might not be said.
I think one of the greatest skills that any leader can master is becoming comfortable with silence. Many people view silence as empty space that needs to be filled, but when leaders learn to accept it—and work with it—they open the doors for others to speak and be heard. The result is often unexpected and enlightening connection and a wealth of information.
-- David Grossman