Listening Skills: Are Yours Motivating Others To Be Their Best?
January 30, 2013 2 Comments
Active listening skills create feelings of respect, cooperation and care between the two or more people.
We’ve all learned to have good or bad listening skills – often from a very young age. As adults and business leaders, it’s important to recognize that these habits likely dominate our personal communication style… and that we are responsible for the consequences of those habits.
When we’re not being listened to, we often begin to wonder what’s wrong with us. We can begin questioning our value, our participation and creativity. If this happens at work we become less valuable to our employer and our team. If this happens at home it can lead to communication breakdown and the end of a relationship (“He doesn’t understand me or care for me anymore”). Both are lose–lose situations.
By being open and listening to others (showing them the same courtesy you expect), we gain more respect and cooperation from coworkers, customers, and partners / families. Holding others in high regard motivates others to want to work with us. Good listening skills motivate others to be their best and to work hard to please us.
By being closed and not listening you push people away and it’s natural for the person or people we don’t listen to to get out of that space – and try not to return. If it is a work environment, this may lead us to not contributing to discussions or keep ourselves out of some projects or meetings completely. Continued feelings like self-doubt and frustration will likely also lead to quitting the department or company. An expensive proposition for the company (to lose valuable talent and to have to hire and train new talent.
How We Feel When We Aren’t Heard
When we’re not listened to (when we are not being heard), we become discouraged – deflated. We can feel:
- Self doubt
- Less important
- That something is wrong ‘with me’
- May feel that our time / our core competency isn’t valued
How do you feel when you are not being listened to?
Reasons For Poor Listening
There are many reasons we may not be listening. Some may be workload or an urgent need, some our personal style, some may be based in generational experiences or cultural / hierarchical beliefs. For example:
- You think you have the solution (“I know – do this.”)
- You think you are being efficient (“Do this – get it done – move on.”)
- You have no interest (“You or this topic bores me.”)
- Hierarchical (“I’m senior – do as I say.”)
- Your attention is elsewhere (“I need to finish that big project by Friday.” or “I’m upset because my friend is in the hospital.”)
- The other persons needs / points of view are different from your own. You see this as disagreement and therefore dismiss the other person or see them as a threat. (“I don’t agree.”)
- You feel you are being used (“Bruce is asking me to put aside my work for his – therefore he must think he is more important than me… or his work is more important than mine.”)
Communication is a skill and listening requires respectful encouragement. We all have to learn to be more conscious listeners – to listen with curiosity and interest and to ‘park’ the assumptions we make – even if we think we know the answer or best solution. We have to learn to recognize when we are being open (good listeners) vs. closed (poor listeners), and what both feel like – for ourselves and the people around us.
Effective listening takes practice but is well worth it – paying back our career and company revenues and our relationships.
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