On the contrary! A focus on listening can lead to more effective teamwork, higher productivity, fewer conflicts and errors, enhanced innovation and problem-solving, improved recruiting and retention, superior customer relations and more. As authors on leadership development have noted through the years, listening is not just a nice thing to do, it’s essential for success in your organisation.
“Make the human element as important as the financial or the technical element,” wrote Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “You save tremendous amounts of time, energy and money when you tap into the human resources of a business at every level. When you listen, you learn.”
As long ago as 1966, Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive and numerous other books, emphasized the importance of listening to both self and others as an essential step in bringing to light everyone’s role as contributors to the organization’s overall success.
Likewise, studies in Emotional Intelligence (EI) over the past couple of decades have found that leaders actually “infect” the workplace (for better or for worse) with their attitudes and energy. To understand and influence these flows of emotions and motivational states, leaders need to be able to practice empathic listening skills.
It takes time and conscious practice to become adept at listening empathically. Here are some tips for sharpening your listening skills:
- Develop your curiosity: Remember the first of Covey’s Seven Habits: Seek first to understand’. Genuine curiosity is felt by others and helps to open up their communication to you and your listening skills.
- Pay attention to your listening: How well are you really listening? Replay conversations you’ve had and assess whether you listened well.
- Practice your listening: Even 5 minutes a day of conscious practice will lead to an improvement in your listening skills. Try listening to an audio recording (this could be a radio show, a podcast, an audio book) and then try to write down what you remember hearing. Re-listen to the recording and see how well you listened.
- Seek feedback. Ask colleagues, employees, bosses, clients/customers and suppliers to assess your listening skills. Ask them to give you specific feedback on how well they perceive you listen
- Work with a coach or mentor. Coaches can help you discover ways to listen better not only to those you work with, but also to yourself.
Listening better will reward you with an entirely new level of communication and problem-solving skills, for empathic listening requires the ability to see multiple points of view in any given situation.
Aspire HR Ltd offers Training programmes, Workshops, Personality profiling and Coaching to support new and experienced Leaders be successful in leading their teams to perform at their best. Contact us to enquire about how we can help you.