As a leader, the biggest accolade you can give to your team is the gift of listening.  Here we look at instances where we listen inappropriately and what you can do about it.

Listen to understand

One-sided conversations are common.  For example, one of the people in the conversation is doing 90% of the talking and even if the other person manages to get in a word or two, the other person either responds immediately or continues on their rant.

One of my favourite life lessons is to “listen to understand, not to respond”.  Unfortunately, in my experience, 90% of the population does not do this.  Most people want to help. They want to respond.  People want to be heard and they want their opinion to be heard.  As people give their opinion it is with a view to persuading others to adopt it.

Receiving the gift of listening

On a more positive note, I have been fortunate enough be on the receiving end of the gift of listening.  It is an amazing feeling to really have someone listen to what you have to say, to be curious about what you are saying and why you are saying it.

Instead of responding with their opinion or their experience, they respond with empathy and understanding. Truly listening provides an incredible connection between two people.

Listening is an important skill for all of us, but as Leaders, it is even more important.  As a Leader, listening to others gives you the opportunity to really connect with your colleagues and to understand how they are feeling about what is going on in your organization.  It also brings respect for you from your team because they know that their opinion and thoughts are being heard and are valuable.

Giving the gift of listening

Imagine how it would feel if you could give someone the gift of listening.  It takes a lot of practice and discipline to control the urge to provide input and opinion, but most of the time, that is not what people want.  They want to be seen, heard, and understood.  This is a common need of all human beings.

How to listen well

  • Be sincere when listening.  Truly keep commit to listening unconditionally.
  • Don’t think about what you can say next.
  • Be curious about what is going on with the other person.
  • Listen with your heart.
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On my Twitter page (Dragonfly Insights @clbenning), I provide insight into living authentically and into gender intelligence – two topics I am very passionate about. For my “day job” I provide leadership to a team of dedicated professionals in an animal health products manufacturing environment.