Are you a good listener? You may think you are, but are you actually putting your whole head and heart into the task?
“But I don’t have time to listen to the …” are often used words from the less effective and poor listeners. You may think you are a good listener … you are probably not as good as you think.
Good listening actually saves you time. Let’s take a closer look at how to be a good listener and how to save time by listening. The top attribute of the best senior leaders is that they are good listeners.
Hearing what others say is not good listening. Having the other person feel you heard them is being a good listener.
The Listening Executive
When asked for the traits of a good listener, these are the responses from some of our top level clients:
- Great eye contact.
- Pushes other things aside to listen.
- Asks great follow up questions seeking understanding.
- Relaxed in the midst of busyness.
- Facial reactions indicated listening.
- Used eye contact to really connect and focus.
- Paused to think before responding.
- Sought to understand.
- Non-verbals communicated listening.
- Did not multi-task.
When asked how these sets of listening behaviors left them feeling, the same group responded:
- This person cares about me.
- I’m important to this person.
- I have this person’s attention.
- This person is approachable and accessible.
- My interests are his interests.
- I can make a difference (so hard to communicate to your employees).
Did you catch that last one? Good listening helps those who report to you feel like they can make a difference. This is a great perception to transfer to your employees that makes for a better organization.
The best listeners are very busy too; just like the rest of us.
The major objection we often hear to making the effort for better listening is “I’m just too busy. I just don’t have the time!”
We get that. We also get that reasonable sounding excuses are one of the major factors that keep good professionals, executives and CEO’s from being great professionals, executives and CEO’s. So we all need to get over that excuse.
Here’s the encouraging bottom line: Good listening skills actually save you time!
“What can I do for you right now?” can focus the other person on their topic. Then you make sure you fully understand what they are saying and feeling. In a very short period of time (just a few minutes, really) you can make someone feel completely listened to and motivated. You’ll be pleasantly stunned at the results.
Leaders who are great listeners are just as busy as anyone else, if not more. The crucial difference, the difference that makes a huge difference is simple that they have learned to be fully present when listening. Even if it’s just for two minutes or less, they can make the speaker feel totally listened to and valuable.