Understanding Your Role
Have you ever experienced reporting to a manager that seemed to never have time for a real conversation with you? Or maybe you’ve been fortunate to experience a leader who made you feel like nothing else was more important than what you were expressing in the conversation.
In my past leadership roles, I had considered myself to be a good listener. While attending training on executive coaching, I was introduced to the concept of three primary forms of listening. This new insight challenged my perspective on being a Listening Leader. The three forms of listening are: Listening To, Listening For, and Listening With. (Williams & Menendez, 2015) I will cover each of these in individual posts, so today let’s begin with Listening To.
The three forms of listening are: Listening To, Listening For, and Listening With.
When we demonstrate Listening To someone, we are typically practicing basic active listening skills. This would include listening to what is being said (and what is not being said), paying attention to any body language and emotions, and if we are really Listening To we will playback some of the conversation to the person to clarify our understanding of what they are communicating. All of these are great attributes to have when practicing Listening To.
Getting Caught In The Urgency Trap
Compare and contrast the positive attributes of Listening To with what can sometimes occur in our fast-paced leadership world. We may schedule time for 1-on-1 with an employee only to find out we have less time than originally planned. Another pressing need has come up that requires our attention and will require shortening the meeting. During the 1-on-1, we hear the employee speak to a particular topic and in our head we jump to conclusions about why they are bringing up this topic, shortly followed by filling in some of their statements or thoughts. We don’t take the time to clarify as we are sure of where they are heading with the topic, compounded with the fact that we are already pressed for time. Of course, we do not need to ask any clarifying questions nor playback our understanding because we are sure we have a clear grasp of the topic and their needs. Sound familiar? I’m hoping not, but it is a trap we can get caught in while trying to balance the other pressing needs around us as leaders. These are some of the challenges in practicing Listening To, next post we will cover Listening For.
Practice Listening To
Let me leave with you with a few things to consider. What can you do to give your employees your undivided attention? How can you quiet your inner voice and truly seek to understand their perspective first? The Listening Leader can truly have a positive impact on the people they are entrusted to lead.
Williams, P., EdD, & Mendendez, D. S., PhD. (2015). Becoming a Professional Life Coach 2nd Edition: Lessons From The Institute For Life Coach Training. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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