We live in a fast evolving world; a world where what is new today, is outdated tomorrow; a world with so much noise that you have to express yourself constantly to stay top of mind and be seen (as well in corporate life as in an entrepreneurial life); a world where there is more attention on speaking than on listening.
Look around you, there are so many courses on giving better presentations, on how to use your voice in a better way, on having impact, on marketing yourself, on personal branding,... All aimed on expressing yourself in a better way, all aimed towards the outside world.
But what about the other way? Are you able to really listen? And I don't mean listening to find an opening to get your answer or voice in between. No, I mean listening to really take the outside in.
Read here what it's all about, and how to do it.
Listening is probably the most underestimated leadership skill there is.
Good leaders are able to listen very attentive. They listen to everything what's happening around them, they listen to (potential) clients, they listen to their co-workers, they listen to their own thoughts, ideas and resistance. They are able to take it all in.
Look for example at how Elon Musk listened at a suggestion from a Tesla customer and will take the suggestion into a next software update for the car.
He wasn't listening to apologise about the shortcoming, he wasn't listening to explain why it is the way it is, he wasn't listening to formulate his own opinion about it, no, he just took it in and did something with it.
That might give the impression that you become reactive when you listen, constantly reacting on everything that's being said and constantly firefighting those things that come to you. But that's not the case! If you become reactive, then you're not listening anymore, then you're reacting.
Listening purely for the act of listening, is about becoming quiet so you are able to listen. Real listening is about the stillness of your own mind, about holding your reaction, and about the curiosity to fully understand the situation, issue or topic.
When you do so, you can take it all in and start mingling everything you've heard with your own thoughts, with the bigger vision of what you want to achieve, and with all forces that have an influence on this particular thing. And so you will come up with a much better reaction once you are ready to answer.
Now I hear you think: "I don't have time for all this, people expect instant answers form me!"
Well, let's challenge that. What and when was the last decision that you had to take where time was so critical that an answer had to be given within 5 minutes?
I can think about a few crisis situations where such decisions are at play. But let's get real with each other, you're probably not operating in such life threatening situations for most of the time, and probably there is more time to take the decision than how you might perceive it. Because, don't forget, it doesn't have to take you longer than 5 minutes.
Well, follow these steps to immediately become a better listener:
- Commit yourself to the act of listening: put away all (possible) distractions.
- Don't let your own thoughts or emotions get in the way of your listening: listening is not about you, nor about what you think of it. It's all about the person in front of you.
- Listen actively. For example by repeating the sentences in your head.
- Be curious about what is said, and only react with questions that will help you to understand it even better. You can stop asking clarifying questions once the other person has the feeling of being fully understood.
- Take a pause of just a few seconds or minutes to let it all percolate.
- Only then formulate your answer/(re)action.
If this process takes you too long, you can train the specific parts that make it difficult. You could for example train to quiet your thoughts more efficiently (by meditation, mindfulness or HeartMath). You could train yourself to make clean cuts, so you're not distracted by things you were doing before. You can train yourself in being more curious and ask more clarifying questions.
So, actually there are no excuses to not practice your listening skills more!
The process above are just a few steps, all elements of it can be trained, and the benefits on your effectiveness are huge, because after listening well, your reaction will be precisely on target!
Go ahead and start right away with the steps indicated above!
If you feel it's a hard thing to do, or if you want to boost your effectiveness also in other ways, then let's have a talk. Because that's what I do, I help ambitious leaders be more effective at work. I help them go from feeling tired, because they push themselves so hard, to being energised and focused on the right things.
So click the button, and set up a free 30 minute (re-)connect session to get to know each other, and discuss this in person.
Or join the Ambitious Leader Community (a free FB group) where the tough details of topics like this can be discussed with other ambitious leaders. Click here to join
Geschreven door Dennis Fredrickx