A common thread in any definition of good leadership is that it’s about getting things done through other people. At its best, good leadership inspires cooperation and collaboration through effective interpersonal skills that let people know their contributions matter. Listening well is central to getting successful engagement.
Listening shows you care.
Effective listening contains:
- Empathy, demonstrating that one understands another’s experiences and emotions.
- Non-judgement, openness and assuming positive intent in the other.
- Freedom of interruption, encouraging and advancing another’s ideas.
- Mindfulness, awareness of what is being said and how it’s said and responding accordingly.
One technique for employing active listening is to use a stoplight metaphor. When the opportunity presents itself in a conversation, STOP and listen. Listen for both the facts i.e. relevant details of what’s being said, and the feelings i.e. what emotions are being called up in the person as he/she is speaking. Then YIELD by reflecting back what you heard, both the facts and the feelings. Finally, GO on to discussion.
Put it into practice:
Make a point to STOP today and listen attentively to a colleague today, whether it’s about something related to work or personal life. Listen 10% more attentively than you might normally. At least once during the conversation, respond in such a way to demonstrate that you heard what the person said and how he/she felt about it. Then ask a follow-up question. For example, “Thanks for telling me about your project, Ron, it sounds like you’re excited to have made a breakthrough. What’s the biggest thing you learned so far?”
Listening as an act of love:
To see examples of the powerful impact of listening and discover ways to invite stories from important people in your life, go to StoryCorps, a project that began in 2003 to collect and preserve people’s stories.