Your success as a leader depends critically on your ability to listen. The majority of information that you use for your decision-making comes from listening. Building rapport, supporting your team, the process of being a leader all comes from listening. It has been said that the key to leadership is to understand and then be understood. In other words, to be a good communicator you first have to learn how to understand and that is listening.
It’s very hard to get your point of view across if you don’t listen first. How many times have you wished that the person with whom you’re communicating, would listen. Here are seven principles of good listening that are used by every effective leader.
Number one. Stop talking. Let the speaker finish. Even when you are in a very familiar situation, stop talking and listen.
Number two. Relax. All the research clearly shows that when you are relaxed you are a much better listener. If you are tense and stressed or nervous then your listening skills diminish.
Number three. Show the person you are listening. This simple tactic puts them at ease. Small gestures such as nodding your head, eye contact, leaning forward and making affirmative sounds all help to show the person that you’re listening. Give the speaker your undivided attention.
Number four. Your objective in this communication is to understand what the person is saying, not to disagree with every point. There is no point starting an argument if your objective is to listen.
Number five. The awake to the possibility that your personal prejudices may hinder your listening ability. It is very difficult sometimes to evaluate the person rather than what they are saying. However, to ensure good listening you must suppress your personal views and prejudices when you are attempting to find out about others.
Number six. Listen with empathy. Try and put yourself in the other person’s position. If you are that person what would it mean to you if you were saying the same thing? How important would it be? How would it affect you?
Number seven. It’s important to remember that when people speak or talk about something, they often leave bits out. So you have to be alert to what the person is saying but also work out what the person is not saying. Ask yourself, why would you, if you were speaking, leave out the bits the other person has left out? It’s all about putting yourself in the other person’s position and trying to feel what they are feeling.
Effective listening is one of the most important leadership skills because without it, leaders cannot function very well.
By Andrew Clapton