The best leaders are also great listeners.
It’s not always a skill that comes naturally, especially in today’s world with the rapid pace and multitude of distractions at our fingertips.
You know this if:
- you’re guilty of looking at your phone while someone is speaking to you
- looking past a person who is talking to you
- you have to ask someone to repeat themselves because something they said went in one ear and out the other as your brain was thinking about your to-do list
As a leader in your business, whether you have a layer of management under you, or whether you are interfacing directly daily with your front line team, great listening skills are important. Your listening skills impact your team’s perception of you, your ability to make effective decisions or recommendations, and your effectiveness as a leader. As a byproduct, if you aren’t modeling great listening skills as the leader, there’s a better than average chance that your team is modeling those same skills (or lack of) with your clients. This can quickly impact your bottom line.
Here are 5 listening skills to focus on to instantly make yourself a better a listener.
- Eye Contact
It’s no mistake that this is #1 in our list. Eye contact is critical. Eye contact instantly connects you with the other person and communicates that you value what they have to say. When you break eye contact, you break connection and trust. It implies that whatever else you are looking at is more important and instantly diminishes your credibility.
- Listen to What is NOT Said
Many times, what is not said is just as important (if not more) that what is said. Watch the body language of the person you are communicating with. What’s being implied by what’s not spoken?
- Don’t Interrupt
Listen without interrupting… let the person you are speaking with finish their thought(s) completely. And when you think they are finished, allow an additional few seconds of silence before speaking, just to make certain they have finished their thought.
- Ask Questions
Questions bring clarity and can enhance understanding. Without interrupting, once the person you are speaking with has completed their thought(s), ask probing questions around what was said and not said.
- Don’t Jump to the Answer/Solution
As a leader, it can be a natural inclination to immediately jump to an answer or solution. Resist the temptation to do this. Formulating an immediate solution impacts (negatively) the ability to listen. In fact, we tend to stop listening once we’ve arrived at solution … whether the person is done talking about the issue or not. Listen with the intent to fully understand before you respond.
A recent study conducted at George Washington University showed that listening can influence up to 40% of a leader’s job performance. Great listeners listen with the intent to understand, not to speak. Leaders who are great listeners make more effective decisions and recommendations, and they earn the respect of their team members and clients.
“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.”
~ Dean Jackson
In LX Council, we consistently talk about leadership strengths and weaknesses. Being around the table with other leaders, listening to their concerns and challenges, along with solutions and best practices can help you take your business and leadership skills to the next level.
Our business leader members regularly bring powerful ideas to share in our meetings, including but not limited to: best practices, business processes, employment practices, as well as useful productivity tools and apps. If you’re ready to take your business and leadership skills to the next level, and if you think your business could benefit from more insights like what’s offered in this article, let’s start a conversation. LXCouncil may be the perfect next step!
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