Whether you are a stay-at-home mom trying to juggle a number of responsibilities, a small business owner, or a CEO at a large corporation, listening is a skill that everyone should take some time to practice in order to improve their leadership. In other words, a good leader is expected to have outstanding communication abilities, which believe it or not, encompasses the aspect of listening. So, how does one become a better listener?
Say No to Distractions
First and foremost, make sure to let the person who is trying to tell you something, know that you are present in the moment – that they have your ear. Naturally, effective listening means making eye contact, and trying to maintain it without glancing at the phone or computer if a new notification pops up. Not allowing the interference of electronic devices to distract you will also help you pick up on slight body language nuances. Furthermore, these subtle hints can further help you read between the lines. Whatever leadership position you’re in, showing respect by not giving importance to distractions over the speaker is a great listening quality that can improve relations on both the personal and business level.
Make sure you got the message
Each and every individual has a different diction and dialect; they speak at a different pace, their ability to convey messages clearly varies, and in the worst case scenario, they are not entirely sure what they want to say. Nonetheless, if you are a good leader, you will patiently wait and give them a sufficient amount of time to express what they had in mind. In case the message was not clear enough, make sure to ask questions or give a short summary to ascertain whether or not you heard them correctly. Also, practice patience by not interrupting, as it can show disrespect.
Pay attention to the gist of the message
There are times when a speaker’s story become too complex. The original message they wanted to convey gets lost in myriads of details that are not necessarily relevant to the overall piece of information. A good listener will tune in and try to pick up the important bits and pieces that are relevant to the story, as they will help him/her actually grasp the message. This way, the listener is also able to ask follow-up questions, in case there is need for clarification. Additionally, understanding the message fully will also help the listener act on it.
If you are a parent trying to cater to your children’s needs, a teacher educating youngsters, or a lawyer dealing with an important case, you want to understand the speaker’s needs so that you can act accordingly. This in turn will have fruitful results no matter what type of leadership position you find yourself in. And last but not least, honing your listening skills will also greatly benefit your personal and business relationship in ways you might have not expected.
All in all, sincerely choosing to listen to someone shows care and respect. It is a valuable skill that requires patience and willingness, and it’s also an attribute that can mean the difference between a good and bad relationship.
Author: Jackie Edwards, guest writer
Photo by: Tim Gouw