Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt as though they weren’t really listening? I’m sure you have! Maybe they were glancing around, fidgeting, interrupting or even taking-over and making it all about them.
Tuning-out when listening is a habit that we can easily get into, but one that is not conducive to building rapport or getting engagement.
As leaders your day can be extremely busy, bouncing from one meeting to another, dealing with the email influx and sorting-out those out-of-the-blue issues that pop-up at the most inconvenient of times.
During my travels, I make a point of listening to people, catching snippets of conversations as I go about my own thing. What I notice a lot are the corridor conversations where one person is off-loading to another about their work. I often hear, they don’t appreciate me, they don’t listen and they don’t care. I see people who are disengaged, disgruntled and disheartened. If left to fester, these people can become what I call white-ants. White-ants eat-away at the foundations of a house, quietly destabilising it until it topples. The more we choose not to listen to people, the further underground they will go to be heard, and the more destructive they will become.
If we allocate time to actively listen, we may just gain insight into their fears or concerns, and ultimately determine a way of moving forward in a proactive and positive manner. Sure I hear you saying, but what about the people who are always moaning? If you have actively listened and come to a shared understanding, and they continue to moan, then you are moving into the realms of having a different type of conversation; an accountability conversation.
Active listening means allocating uninterrupted time together. It looks like someone talking and the other person listening by showing both nonverbal and verbal signs of being engaged. The listener may be cherry-picking key points the person is saying and sharing them back. The listener may also be asking a few deliberate questions that support the speaker to delve deeper into, or clarify their thinking.
If you are truly wanting engagement, you need to tune-into others in order to turn them on.
So my challenge to you this week is to play-with active listening. Select a person and really pay attention to what they are saying. Try-out some of the techniques I have shared, and take note of their responses.
I would love to hear how it goes for you, so either comment or make contact and let me know.
Have a great week!