Are you a good listener? We all like to think we are, but it's important to examine ourselves and make sure we understand what it means to truly be a good listener. You might be surprised how much more you are able to understand within a conversation. A lot of times, we listen just enough to decide how to respond. This is often what I hear leaders do throughout their day in their one-on-one and team meetings. So much is missed in that type of interaction.
As a leader, it is important to listen so that you can truly understand the heart of the matter being discussed. As I mention in my book, "Confidence, Clarity, & Ease: A Guide for Emerging Leaders to Thrive;" you must take time to pause, silence the conversations in your mind, and get curious. Listening in this way will help you relate to people, communicate with them, and ultimately lead them.
3 Levels of Listening:
In my book, I discuss the three levels of listening.
Listening for self: This type of listening focuses on how information concerns you. It brings the focus back on you. Have you ever been in conversations, where the focus always seems to go on the other person regardless of what you are saying? And yet, if I am in a doctor's office, I will listen to see how whatever is being shared relates to me.
Listening for information: This type of listening focuses on what is being said. An example of this is when you're in a class and working to learn about something. Or you might be involved in a conflict, and this second level of listening has you respond so you can get your point of view across. This type of listening also occurs when managers hear their direct reports asking for help. They might find themselves listening just enough to fix their problems.
Listening for meaning: This type of listening goes beyond just the words someone is saying. It means that you notice the body language, the values, and you empathize with what the person is saying. This is a selfless type of listening where you get to know someone's heart and why they feel the way that they do. You can often hear what is most important to that individual. As leaders, this can help you to understand how to delegate tasks or even what kinds of projects someone might want to do. It can help you to support your team through difficult conversations, through change of management and transitions, and getting results.
All three levels of listening are valuable. As leaders, it is important to know what is most useful depending on the situation you find yourself in.
What is the impact to you when you are not truly listening?
What is the impact on your team when you are not truly listening?
What practices do you need to put into place so that you are taking time to hear the heart of the matter?
There are so many ways listening effectively will help you in life. Ultimately, it will give you an entirely new level of communication and problem-solving skills. You will look at life and others around you in a different way.