Leading By Listening

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Great leaders listen.  You lead by listening.  One of my favorite reads during the pandemic has been the book “You’re Not Listening” by Kate Murphy.   To demonstrate care during this time, we must become exceptional listeners.  To not just hear what others are saying but to listen to what others are saying.  A few startling stats from the book include:

  • 2018 the UK appointed a “minister for loneliness” to assist the report 9 million that are lonely
  • 2018 – a survey of 20,000 Americans half of Americans feel that they do not have meaningful face to face in person interactions
  • 50% of those say they feel left out in social situations

This research was completed prior to the pandemic.  We are now faced with Zoom and phone calls to maintain connection.  The challenge with these mediums is that our brain feels connected and our body’s do not and it creates dissonance.  What do we do about this challenge?

  1. Talk Less and Listen More:  Set a percentage goal for the amount of time that you are listening vs. talking.  Track your progress with a behavioral scorecard.
  2. Understand The Difference Between Being Heard and Being Listened To:  Being heard is about you checking the person off the list.  Being listened to is about utilizing reflective responses and exploratory responses to gain a clear idea of what the person is saying.  There is a reason the person is speaking.
  3. Become a Conversational Supporter vs. A Conversational Shifter:  A conversational supporter helps the listener keep the conversation going by saying things like “Tell me more.” and “What was that like for you?” A conversational shifter moves the conversation back to themselves by saying “I had a dog once and his name was Fido.” or “I struggle with that too and it is so frustrating.”
  4. Know The Person:  There is nothing better than the experience of being known by another.    The questions you ask the other ought to reflect the knowledge you have of the other person.
  5. Reflect On The Disconnect:  During the pandemic, I have been reflecting on the disconnect between what my brain has been saying and what my body is saying.  This allows me to see what if I am moving toward a more productive relationship with the person.  For example: What went well? What would I change? How am I feeling after the conversation and why?

As you look at these five methods to improve your listening, what stands out? Which one do you have a strong grasp of and which one are you still progressing on?



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