Have you ever had a leader that listens to you without actually hearing what you have to say? Not a fun feeling. I hate to admit it, but I had to give up my Apple Watch because it caused me to do it so often. I’ve personally experienced this once or twice working with other leaders, and I’ve always come away from the conversation frustrated.
As an effective leader, I want to practice the art of active listening. By its definition, active listening means to fully concentrate on what we’re hearing using more than just our ears. We listen to the message by taking in sight cues along with verbal cues.
Active listening allows leaders to learn about all perspectives, both positive and negative. It helps develop new ideas and create opportunities for growth and improvement by giving your team the space to voice their thoughts. All in all, active listening encourages your team to be more open and share more about themselves.
While it seems fairly straightforward, active listening is a difficult skill to learn. According to Forbes magazine, mastering this skill comes down to three steps.
- Stop multitasking.
- Focus on what’s being said and avoid doing other things during a conversation.
- Listen to understand and not to respond.
- This can be challenging, but allowing others to speak without interruption helps you understand the matter at hand through a different perspective.
- Learn to listen to what’s not being said.
- Have you ever heard someone say “everything’s fine” but feel their actions or movements show otherwise? Active listeners take notice of this. They ask follow-up questions and learn more about the situation.
We get what we give, and actively listening to someone differentiates the good leaders from the great ones. Becoming an active listener takes time and practice, but once learned, we’ll be able to see the effects of it almost immediately.