Great Listeners Don’t Make This Mistake
Great listeners are not those people who can repeat everything they just heard. Instead, great listeners make people feel heard.
When people talk, the intent is to transfer information. Sometimes, we want a response from the listener. Other times, we don’t. However, we always want to feel heard.
People can be heard, but not feel heard. And when a person doesn’t feel heard, a disconnect occurs.
The challenge of being a great listener comes from the differences between the methods people use to listen and the cues that make people feel heard.
Problem — Default Listening
As human beings, we have different methods for helping us focus and retain what we hear.
Some people listen best by looking directly in the eyes of the person talking. Other people listen best while doodling about what they’re hearing. Some people retain more of what they hear while doing mindless tasks such as walking, going through junk email, straightening their desk, doing dishes, and so on. There are a lot of methods people use to listen well.
But, if you’re wanting to build a strong connection with someone, it doesn’t matter how well you listen if the person on the other end doesn’t feel heard.
Instead of defaulting to the way you think you listen best, shift your mindset and actions to intentionally listen in a way that not only ensures you hear what they say, but also ensures the person communicating with you feels heard.
Solution — Intentional Listening
Admittedly, I retain more of what I hear when I do a mindless task while listening. My husband knows this about me. I can do dishes while he is talking, and then turn around and be able to repeat what he said to me verbatim. But, I know that my husband only feels heard if I’m looking him in the eyes, and my body language is engaging.
Is it easy, natural, or my default way of listening to him to look him in the eyes the whole time? No. He’s so handsome, sometimes I get distracted 😜. But, I can still listen well and make sure he feels heard when I choose to disregard my default and intentionally shift my actions to make sure he leaves the conversation feeling like I cared about what he had to say.
When it comes to the specific, individual people around you, what can you do to make sure they feel heard? If you’re not sure what that answer is, just ask them!
When asked what makes people feel heard, the most common answers are:
-Look me in the eye
-Don’t interrupt me
-Take a minute to think about what I’m saying before you say anything
-Ask me questions to get more information or make sure you understand
Out of those four actions, which do you do well, and which do you need to work on doing better or doing more consistently?
Actions for Leaders
Teams today are so diverse — and it’s not just skin deep. We’re different in how we talk and what makes us feel heard.
When people feel heard, they realize they matter. It’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure those they serve know they matter. When a leader does that well, engagement, retention, trust, and performance among the team will rise.
Great listeners make for great leaders. Don’t let your default derail your leadership success. Make sure you listen, but more importantly, make your people feel heard.
If your team needs improved communication skills, and our training can help — let’s talk!
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