Are You Really Listening?
I am reflecting on a meeting I facilitated last week with three C-suite executives, and I am appreciating the experience because I am reminded of the importance of listening.
My meeting was at a very successful high-growth technology company. At this company, change is constant, as is a heavy workload. Listening is one of the most important skills that a leader can use to bring efficiency to their communication. It is also one of the skills most desired by employees. Everyone wants to be heard and listened to.
Most of us have an unconscious listening filter that we use to attempt to expedite conversations, and by using this filter, we add static to communication. When we aren’t really listening, we are counterproductive, lose connection with others, and block innovation.
THREE TYPES OF LISTENING FILTERS
For example, in my meeting last week, each executive had a listening filter. One was listening to fix, and he kept presenting solutions prematurely. Another was listening to control by trying to direct the conversation to her most important topic. The third executive was listening to avoid conflict by offering positive comments to anything that was said.
I found myself sliding into my own filter of listening to fix, and shifted into my practice of stating only one sentence and then asking a question for clarity. I revealed to the small group that I was drifting into my Listening To Fix filter.
They became curious and realized they were doing the same – not really listening to each other. We all smiled at our awareness, immediately connected, and created possibilities for innovative solutions. We were having more fun.
I can remember facilitating another group around listening skills, and they all said, “It’s so hard to try not to help and fix.” During my days in leadership, I remember a colleague saying to me, “I don’t want you to do anything, I just want you to listen to me.” I thought, “Wow, nothing to do here but listen!” This feedback was crucial to me then and still serves me now.
By dropping our listening filters and listening for accuracy, with empathy, and to promote mutual creativity, we are the source of authenticity in any situation. I continue to enjoy the big aha in executives as they raise their awareness around listening.
How about you? Are you REALLY listening?
“Consciously listening is a way to give attention to others. Leaders can show care by being masterful listeners. It can change the way you are perceived and how you connect with others. It speeds up the productivity of everyone involved in a project. It is also one of the most desired leadership traits by employees.” – from Chapter 10: Masterful Listening