It is all so simple to tell people to just listen, but it is not easy! To be effective and influential as a leader in your workplace, in marriage, and in your family, listening is a critical skill to have or to develop.
Maybe you are like me. I am a “doer” and a “fixer” by nature. I like to get things done, solve problems, resolve conflict, and move on. I like to help people, which is why I became a coach, and to be an effective coach, I have to be a good listener. I have to force myself to listen effectively.
Do you think you are already a good listener? Take an honest self-assessment. If you want to know for sure, ask those who work for and with you. Ask your wife. Ask your children and other family members. Ask your friends. Feedback is essential to grow as a leader, and this could be some of the most valuable feedback you can receive. Before you ask, assure them that it is safe, that there won’t be any (none, nada, zilch) backlash or retaliation for being honest. Then, when they provide the feedback, resist the temptation to defend yourself. Simply listen and hear their heart. Then, thank them for the feedback.
So, how do you become good at listening?
- Ask the other person if he or she wants help solving the problem or just wants you to listen. This is extremely helpful for me when my wife is sharing something with me.
- Intentionally set aside your agenda and let the other person talk.
- Totally focus on what the other person is saying and block out your own thoughts, preferences, and solutions. This is one of the most challenging things to do, but well worth it.
- Pay attention to what is not spoken and allow yourself to hear beyond what is being shared. 93% of communication occurs through tone and body language, only 7% through words.
- Ask questions to confirm your understanding or for clarification.
- Affirm what is being said, repeating it back or paraphrasing so that the other person knows that you are receiving what they intend.
The list could go on, but it only makes a difference if you desire a different outcome than what you’ve been getting and you take action. A few questions to consider. What would you gain by being a more effective listener? What are you missing out on from your current level of listening? What would be the impact on others if you were a better listener?
You get to choose to stay the same or do something different. My hope is that you will choose to be the best listener possible so that you experience life abundantly.