Find Out the “Messing” Link in your Communication
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey.
Would you agree?
Amid a whole range of skillset and qualities successful leaders endure and transmit, to fulfill their responsibilities, listening is one that tops the charts.
Think for a moment, when was the last time, you gave a patient and non- judgmental hearing to someone. Imagine your colleague or a direct report comes to you with a problem, how would you respond to that situation? Do you see this as another opportunity for you to prove yourself a master of the skill or rather, a chance for “showing your team how to do it” instead of “telling what to do”? Perhaps, an effective leader would go for the third option of providing a clarity in the direction and getting the team to rather think. He will wait to listen to their solutions – which may seem a bit off-track and costing time. However, by giving them a patient hearing and then asking the right questions to enable them think more and identify better solutions, you’re indeed differentiating yourself as a valuable leader.
Listening Can Plug Loose Ends in Communication and Leadership
Communication gap is one of the main hurdles in today’s age. Blame it on technology or time, the fact of the matter remains — this gap creates a huge leakage in the relationships.
People often complain about communication gaps in the workplace with their Managers or colleagues. “I struggle every day to make them understand what exactly is the requirement. But all I hear is – constraints”. So, the problem is at both the ends – when team members do not listen actively to the manager and when the manager does listen to their problems and challenges.
Effective listening in communication is a must-have in present-day leadership. You will only end up hitting against the brick wall while giving advice or directions to the team members, unless you totally understand where is this coming from. This understanding can only be attained when you, as a manager, make a sincere effort to listen to them – how they perceive things and interpret them. It is high time you drop the lenses.
More so, leadership is not confined to task management. There are times when you are supposed to solve the ongoing challenges of your team and organization – which may not be specific to a project but critical for growth and sustainability. This problem-solving can be initiated in both ways – either they volunteer to come to you and talk or you observe deviations in their behavior and intervene through feedback or a simple chat.
Active listening in communication consists of two major components; first, seeking genuinely to understand the other person, and second, communicating that understanding back to the speaker. This latter characteristic has caused the approach to be referred to often as “reflective listening.” The reflection is important, because it reassures the speaker and the listener that what is being communicated is being understood. Without that link, neither the speaker nor the listener is really sure whether clear communication is taking place. The second components will help you to avoid judgment, you bet we all have been in the trap of judging others.
Learn to watch for and be able to identify the feelings associated with what a person is saying. Some managers find it almost impossible to recognize feelings—perhaps, because the demands of their jobs have taught them over the years to suppress the emotional side of their personalities.
Listening Can Transform Relationships
The most important aspect of communication is not talking, it is listening. Relationships perish and deteriorate due to lack of communication and listening skills when both the persons feel that they are not being heard. For instance, when we get into an argument, aren’t we always ready to state our views or judgment, seldom taking into account what the reality of the other person looks like, where is the other person coming from or what does the other person feels?
Authentic listening fosters a relationship. When you mindfully listen to the other person, he feels valued. Many a times we feel if we talk too much or share too much, we are adding value to the conversation or we are impressing the other person. However, that isn’t the case always. Greek philosopher Epictetus also said — “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
And then, there are people who look to be present and listening to you. But in reality, they are somewhere else. This mostly happens due to the internal noise (self-chatter as I call it), happening inside their brain and doesn’t let them be emotionally available to hear you. If you are the one who is not listening and the other person realizes it, chances are, you will lose the opportunity to build a rapport.
Identify if you are an Inattentive Listener
Do you have
1. Interference of thoughts
2. Monologue inside your brain
3. Constant urge to speak up
4. You impose your views on others
5. You try to prove yourself right assuming that you are always right
How would you Master the art of Listening?
You can start by simply suspending your judgement sometimes and make a sincere effort to the underlying emotions of the other person.
Listening, especially, at times of an emotional upheaval is not easy. But, if you learn to take control of it and mindfully practice it, it can turn events. This phenomenon works for everyone across all kind of relationships and associations – whether personal or professional. Listening does not come in naturally; it comes with practice. However, you should not try to use active listening all the time. It’s all about striking a balance– sometimes you need to respond to a situation immediately or your team member or manager might want to know your opinion. So don’t confuse that you have to be silent all the time. You need to master the balancing act. Eventually, people may want to know what you think and what your views are. If you know how to use it, you must also know when to use it and when to put it aside.
If you are looking for any further details on the subject or a more tailored solution to learn and practice active listening vis a viz., emotional intelligence, this is an area where we can help. Connect with us here: firstname.lastname@example.org.