Is building trust, strengthening communication and improving relationships important for you as a leader? Of course.
So listen… I mean really listen to those you lead.
The quickest way to erode trust with those you lead is to fail to listen. Why would they ever come to you if they felt like you didn’t care enough to listen?
Use the following tips in your leadership to aid you in focusing and actively listening. You will be surprised how much easier it is to formulate a better response when you have listened to everything being said.
1. Use Appropriate Body Language. This is more important than you might think. Sit up, look the person in the eye and nod as you are listening. Don’t just stare without any kind of expression or even worse become distracted and stare at things going by you or around you.
What message are you sending? People will only share to the level they are comfortable in sharing. Your body language says a lot to the other person as to how well they feel you are listening. It also sends a strong message to yourself and how ready you are to listen. You will be more prepared to listen when you tell your brain through the use of appropriate body language that you are engaged.
Note: I would also recommend using appropriate language on conference calls, even when others can’t see you. Believe me, things can be felt through the phone. Sit up and smile 🙂
2. Think Ahead. Think ahead of what the other person who is talking is going to say. Try to anticipate what they are leading to and any conclusions they are attempting to draw.
Really try to read between the lines of what they are saying. Thinking ahead creates greater focus. This works when reading a book as well 🙂
3. Restate. When the person is done talking, check for understanding. Restate what has been said. If you know you will have to restate what is being shared, you will be more focused on listening to what is being said.
This is also important because it says to the one you are speaking to that you really want to listen and that you care.
4. Ask Questions. Closely related to restating is asking questions. “So how did it make you feel?” and “Is this what you are meaning by this?” are examples of questions you could ask. It ensures you are really hearing what is being said, not just what is said.
And always, if you don’t understand what is being said, ask those you are listening to, to repeat it or explain it more.
Nothing says trust like active listening does. The better we can listen as leaders, the greater understanding we will have and the more care we will demonstrate.
The good news is you have lots of opportunities to practice. You can start by applying the tips above in the next conversation you have with someone whether at home. work or wherever.