Listen To Lead

Listen to Lead

Only one thing stands between you and success. It isn’t experience; it isn’t talent. If you want to succeed, you must learn how to connect with people. And while it may seem like some people are just born with it, the fact is anyone can learn how to make every communication an opportunity for a powerful connection.  Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John C. Maxwell

Effective communication requires a two-way exchange of information and ideas.  Connection happens when we seek to understand another person.  This requires exercising listening skills.  Listening is the highest honor you can give someone, and it is a key factor in creating influence.  Studies show that in an average day, 45% of our time is spent listening yet we receive little to no training or education on how to better that skill.  As adults our ability to listen (not just hear) also diminishes with age.  

People with extroverted behavior are often seen as natural leaders because of their ability to express their thoughts and feelings.  While passionate, outspoken and enthusiastic leaders can energize a working team, they may also be the team's biggest obstacle to overcome because they are less likely to be receptive to others' ideas, employees can feel unappreciated, stifled or inconsequential.  Listening is much more than just not talking.  While the introverted leader may not be saying much, their thoughts could be running like a six-lane highway.  This speed and internal conversation can create an illusion the person listening.

Becoming a better listener calls for an increase in awareness, first with self and then with others.  When looking at yourself consider your intentions before going into a meeting: what’s on your agenda, what’s on your mind, what are you feeling? Be present in your mind, focus on the conversation and the person you are meeting.  A helpful tip for getting present is to do a body scan or a five senses check.  And while it’s important to have a goal in mind or a desired outcome from the conversation, it’s equally as important to identify what the other person wants and is looking for.  

Developing listening skills is an exercise of intention and focus.  When conversations are tempted with emotional intensity it helps to have a simple exercise to work with while maintaining the focus.  Here is a three step system you can use to practice your listening skills, LOL: Listen, Observe, Learn.

Listen to what is being said, what is not being said, what is the overall or underlying message.
Observe or notice the facial expressions, eye contact, body language. Observe their word choice, their tone, perhaps beliefs or biases.
Learn.  Think.  Process all the information coming in.  What am I learning about the person, the situation, the goal at hand?  

The more you listen and observe, the more you will learn about the people and situations around you.  The further you go along this path the more insight you will unlock.  This will lead to improved relationships, reach of influence, and better decisions.  Bottom line: it pays to listen.

Jill Poulton is a Certified Member of the John Maxwell Team of coaches, trainers, and speakers.  Jill works with sales professionals and entrepreneurs who spend too much time at work, she helps them to clarify and prioritize their focus so they can work less and be more profitable.  |  306-585-2123

Jill Poulton