Listening is an integral space in communication. Listening is the tool that allows us to determine if we are connecting with our team, employees, clients, peers, or even vendors. If we are not listening, it is impossible to gauge if we are on the same page as anyone else. Or, quite frankly, if they are on the same page as us.
Check Your perceptions
One of the most challenging parts of becoming a better listener is checking your own perceptions. This might mean your perceptions of a person, your desired outcomes of a conversations, your ulterior motives or even your mood. These are all perceptual filters that will impact what we bring to the table during a conversation and determine how we understand a message.
Ultimately, this means we hear what we want to hear – or we hear what we think we are going to hear. We become our biggest obstacles in being effective communicators if we do not put our perceptions in check.
How Do We Get Better?
First and foremost, check in with yourself before you sit down to an important conversation. Spend time to clarify your emotions, your desired outcome of the conversation and the main points you want to communicate. It is also a good idea to check in with your relationship status with the person you are going to talk to. All of these variables will impact what you hear, how you hear it, and ultimately how you react to it.
Think about it this way. When we are having a plain old, no good, very bad day, we will perceive everything to have a cloud over it. Even the funniest jokes might only invite a tiny, internal smile. This means we might be more likely to interpret messages as being negative. If you are floating on cloud 9, you might be missing details that are negative or difficult because you are focused on feeling good. Regardless of the filter, unless you check in with yourself before a meeting, your filter will impact you ability to really engage and listen fully.
Listening also means asking questions
Listening also means you are asking questions. Checking in with yourself and holding yourself accountable for the filters you are bringing into the conversation is one step. However, another step is asking questions to the person (or people) you are speaking to. If you do not understand something, ask for clarification. If you feel the emotional energy in the conversation is not productive, call a time-out.
The communication process demands that listeners take an active role in the engagement. In the U.S., we tend to place a lot of value on the speaker. However, the listener carries 50% of the responsibility. Without good listening, there is no communication.
Leaders Must lead through listening
The best way to lead is through listening. This does not mean you do not have a voice. But, it means you take the time to check your perceptions, goals and relationships as you interpret the information you receive in a conversation. It also means taking the time to understand what the person is attempting to say – even if they are not able to eloquently state what they want to.
Good leaders listen for understanding. They then can use what they understand to make better decisions or to more effectively connect with the people they are working with. If you are not listening, you may not have the most productive, or satisfied team. And, once you begin to practice active listening, you might find listening allows you to meet your goals much more smoothly than speaking does.
Work with a professional
If you are struggling with leadership, aren’t making sales, or are not able to build your team or company as effectively as you want to, it is a great time to schedule a free consultation to learn how you can elevate your leadership through listening. To schedule you appointment, email the firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for an online appointment.