Do you consider yourself a good listener? If you were to rate yourself, with 1 being not very good and 10 being a great listener, how would you measure up?
Every leader needs to score a 10 on listening. It is a key attribute that enables you to develop deep and trusting relationships with your team members and the important people in your life.
A Backcountry Conversation
My son and I went backpacking in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park with five other adventure seekers and two guides. While there, I overheard two of our companions talking. One of the adventurers was sharing a recent, personal issue with one of the guides. The guide was an incredible listener.
As the story grew more personal, perhaps feeling as if she had pried too far into the adventurer’s life by asking too many questions, the guide said, “You don’t have to share this with me. I don’t want to pry.”
This is where I heard an amazing reply from the adventurer. She said, “No, it’s ok. It is like therapy.”
I held onto that statement. It still sits in my head today.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
— Stephen R. Covey, author and businessman
Lending an Ear
How true it is that the simple act of listening can be a form of therapy to someone else. The guide didn’t have to say anything, she didn’t need to try to fix the adventurer’s problems or come up with a new process to help her arrive at a better outcome.
All she had to do was be present and listen. When someone is going through a difficult situation, being able to unleash the issue allows them to process on a new level, one that exists beyond internal thought. I am not sure exactly how this assists with processing, but, from personal experience, I can verify that it does. When the opportunity came for me to share an issue in my own life, it certainly helped me.
A Level 10 Listener
As a leader, are you willing to listen to your team members? Are you inclined to encourage them to open up and, by doing so, help them process their own issues? Harder still, are you willing to receive “therapy” from your manager, significant other, peers, or even your direct reports?
There are three things you need to do to make this happen:
- Be intentional about being there. Make time in the office or, if you really want to get to know your team, take them outside. Great opportunities can occur in an unfamiliar or less comfortable environment, such as an overnight camping trip in the wilderness.
- Shut up and let them talk. This is where the challenge begins. Tell yourself to just listen and remember that, in this scenario, listening is your job. Nothing else.
- Ask them to tell you more. Communicate with your team members in such a way that they know they can share more, if they feel led to do so.
Author Ann Ashford wrote a poem that hits the nail on the head. It reads, “If all that I would want to do, would be to sit and talk to you… would you listen?”
Would you? My challenge to you is to strive to become a level 10 listener with the people in your life who matter most. Reflect each week on how you’re doing. It’s your choice. You can serve your people by giving them some “therapy” and all you have to do is… say nothing. JUST LISTEN!
Does your team need assistance in growing its leaders to become better listeners? The Fired-Up team is made up of experienced leaders with hearts to help others through one-on-one coaching. Connect with us today!
Paul is part of a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.