Leadership is about influence. Some leaders use positional power to manipulate behavior, but true leadership is relational. Good communication strengthens relationships, and the first step to good communication is good listening.
I have spent the last few weeks in my M.A. class learning about listening. It has been convicting, challenging, and motivating. I thought I was a pretty good listener until I took time to really evaluate my normal communication tendencies against these listening skills…
Listening with full attention
Sitting calm and centered. No fidgeting. Giving eye contact. Projecting warm curiosity. No distractions.
Listening with acceptance
No judgement. No forming opinions in the back of the mind. No planning a rebuttal.
Listening for understanding
“I hear you saying…” “Can you tell me more about that?”
Listening to hear more
Truly engaged and focused. Allowing for silence; not rushing to fill the quiet spaces. Waiting. Lean in.
Listening for information
Can I learn from what they are sharing? Is there something I need to hear? Not getting defensive. Open to hear more.
One exercise I did for the class was to try to listen to someone else talk for three to five minutes without saying a word – just making good eye contact and using body language to show interest and engagement. It was SO hard to not jump in with a comment, advice, or suggestions. You might want to try this… Let me know how it goes for you!
How are your listening skills? What do you do in order to listen well?