By Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa
An old Italian proverb says, “From listening comes wisdom, from speaking comes repentance.” In today’s technological world, listening is not practiced as much as it should be. However, a true servant leader will listen first because true listening builds strength in others. As Robert Greenleaf said, “In saying what I have in mind, will I really improve the silence?”
Listening can be described as an attitude toward other people. You may think that you are a good listener, but do the people around you agree or disagree? Has anyone ever looked at you with a disappointed expression and said, “Are you listening to me?” Let’s face it, being a good listener is not as easy as it sounds. We’ve all drifted off into our own thoughts when we were supposed to be paying attention to what someone else was saying. Maybe it is because the subject matter is boring or the person speaking is just not interesting. Or, perhaps, we are distracted with our own personal issues. Whatever it is, we all could use some tips on how to be better listeners.
If we can become better listeners, we will retain more information, spend less time trying to recall information, improve our quality of work, and strengthen our relationships. It takes concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, and if the listening habits you have developed over time are as many people’s are, then there’s a lot of habit breaking to do. Be deliberate with your listening and remind yourself constantly that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying.
So, are you a good listener? I think we can all use some tips to become a better listener, don’t you? So, what do you say, let’s work on using active listening today to become a better communicator and improve your workplace productivity and relationships. We all should be working to become a more servant leader in our homes and our workplaces. The following five daily exercises will help you become a more effective listener as you travel down the road to becoming a more effect servant leader.
Lesson #1 – Pay Attention!
Listen more than you speak
Stay focused on what the other person is saying
Look at the speaker directly
Put aside distracting thoughts
Stop doing other things
Lesson #2 – Provide Feedback
Focus on using body language
Make eye contact
Uncross your arms
Turn your shoulders so that you are facing the speaker
Lesson #3 – Defer Judgment
Be open minded
Allow the speaker to finish
Don’t interrupt with counter-arguments
Validate the speaker
Share in the speaker’s emotions and feelings
Lesson #4 – Respond Appropriately
Resist the urge to dominate the conversation
Ask questions to clarify certain points
Be candid, open, and honest in your responses
Ask open ended questions to promote further discussions
Don’t say, “I told you so.” Or “I knew that.”
Lesson #5 – Exercise Your Mind
Realize that listening is hard work
Recognize your own biases
Develop an appetite for hearing a variety of presentations
Prepare to listen by having an open mind and a positive