Welcome to the Vital Integrities Blog

Listening Illusions

Are you a good listener? That's a trick question, because the ultimate judge of your behavior is the person talking to you. I've found that most business leaders want to be good listeners, but they nurture four illusions that frustrate their efforts. Before you can master listening, you must first rid yourself of the following illusions.
1. Leaders believe that, in every instance, they understand their listening role. When employees initiate conversations, they expect you to fill one of two listening roles: advisor or sounding board. Those soliciting advice want an expert to diagnose their problems and suggest solutions. On the other hand, some workers simply crave a confidant with whom they can share their success, or their unhappiness, or their apprehension. To listen effectively, you must understand your appointed role.

2. Leaders believe speaking and listening are separate activities. In other words, leaders often fail to pay attention to how their listeners are reacting to what they are saying. We speak and assume our employees agree. But do they? Our employees' body language provides built-in indicators and warning signs that clearly display their real response to our message. You must pay attention for the nonverbal signs of what's going on inside your listeners' heads.

3. Leaders believe they have uncommon gifts for completing several other tasks while they listen. In their book Fish! Tales, Stephen Lundin, John Christensen, and Harry Paul wrote, "You can multi-task with 'stuff,' but you need to 'be there' for people." Leaders who are there for their employees are engaged listeners, present in the conversation, giving their full attention to what their workers have to say. Show your speaker you value what he or she is saying now; you can multi-task later.

4. Leaders believe they can expedite the listening process. The average person speaks at a rate of 125 words per minute. However, most people listen and process information at speeds four or five times faster than that. So they try to drag the speaker along, pushing them to make their point quickly by saying "yeah, yeah" or "sure, sure." Without conversations with our employees, leadership would give way to bureaucracy. Therefore, nothing takes priority over talking with and listening to your employees.
Values-based leadership is about caring, and one of the best ways to show you care is to listen when others speak. If you are going to help workers see the link between their values and those of the organization, you will first need to hear their expressed interests, needs, and concerns.
Bookmark this post on del.icio.us

What do you think? Post a Comment
Vital Integrities Blog - Blogged