Experts in Front Line Leadership

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Be a better listener

Listening is a key skill for managers and in life in general.

Do people think they are better listeners than they really are?

Yes, most people THINK they listen well. In reality most managers and employees really don’t listen well. I see it in training classes when I give instructions. People usually miss it the first time and sometimes need to hear it three or more times. And then they wonder why employees don’t do what they ask them the first time!

When we teach listening skills there are a number of reasons managers, supervisors and employees do not listen.

  • Not giving the person your full attention. If you come to my office and I keep my hands on my computer keyboard, I’m telling you that I am distracted. I shouldn’t pretend to listen. Instead I should either push back and give you my undivided attention or say I will come and see you later. Listening takes effort.
  • We prejudge and don’t give people enough time to express themselves. Because we are in a hurry, we jump to a conclusion and cut the person off. As I learn at home, my wife does not want me to prescribe a solution – she just wants me to listen. Give your people a chance to share what’s on their mind and they will be happier.
  • We let our personal biases get in the way. If I don’t like an individual or I’ve decided that they are a trouble maker or come up with dumb ideas, I’m going to ignore them from the get go. Instead I should listen more closely because they may indeed have a good idea or a valid concern.
  • Lack of context – When you hear information for the first time often you cannot retain it because you have no context. For example when Rob Shervill says the weather, he says it once and then repeats it because your brain goes – was that the weather? and then you are ready to hear it.

We teach managers, supervisors and team leaders to become more effective communicators.

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