Leaders know how important listening is. We know that if we listen to our employees, they will be more trusting of us. We know that if we listen to our customers, they will tell us what they like and what they need. If we listen to our spouse, children, or friends we will be closer. So why is listening so hard sometimes?

I think the main reason is we feel too busy to take time to listen. So, we assume we know what they are the person is thinking without taking the time to listen. That almost never ends well.

Try this experiment. Think of someone you were not naturally drawn to at work. Perhaps there is no conflict there, you just don’t seem to connect with them. Then, ask them how they’re doing, what they are enjoying working on, or what their biggest work challenge is. Then, wait for an answer. If they try and give you a short or shallow answer, probe a bit deeper in a kind way.

Something like this:

You: Hi Robert, how are you today?

Robert: Oh, fine.

You: so, I have a question for you. What are you enjoying working on these days? I mean, what’s the best part?

Robert: You know, I actually need to think about that. I don’t know.

You: Yeah, I get that. Sometimes I get so head down and wrapped up in what I’m doing I forget why. Hey, would you like to have coffee sometime tomorrow during a break and talk some more? I think I could use your input on something.

This brief scenario illustrates several points.
1. People want us to listen to them.
2. Listening shows we have noticed them as real people.
3. You can learn a lot by listening.
4. You need to genuinely want to listen.

Try it out! And let us know how it goes at leaderimpact@cru.org 


Article slider placeholder