Think about a recent situation where you had something valuable to say, and when you said it, you felt like it fell on deaf ears. Maybe the other person was answering emails, maybe they were deep in thought about something else or maybe they kept interrupting you. Whatever their response, I bet the one thing you knew for sure was that this person was absolutely not listening to a word you had to say.
It can be frustrating and sometimes even downright maddening when someone isn’t listening to what we have to say. Especially when what we have to say can make or break whether we achieve our common goals.
I bring this up to make a point that being a powerful and active listener is one of the critical traits that makes somebody a great leader. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is also one of the rarest characteristics seen among today’s great leaders.
Break the mold of poor listeners.
So, what can we do to become better, more active listeners to achieve our goals and create the results we want?
The first thing is to prioritize consciously and deliberately becoming a better, more active listener. It might sound crazy but make this a personal goal for yourself. Once you’ve made it a personal goal, then start listing what you are and aren’t doing that prevents you from becoming the listener you want to be.
Maybe you’re not centering yourself or clearing your mind before you go into conversations. Maybe you’re not asking questions to understand the situation or aren’t thinking about the discussion from the other person’s perspective. Perhaps you interrupt other people or try and finish their sentences to move the conversation along. Maybe in your mind, you’re looking for reasons why what the other person is saying isn’t valid. Or perhaps your mind is focused on thinking about how you will respond to what they’re saying versus actually listening to them.
Once you’ve listed everything you are and aren’t doing that’s preventing you from being a better listener, write out what doing the exact opposite would look like next to each item on your list. For instance, if you’re not clearing your mind before going into conversations with other people, write down the opposite of that. Maybe it’s spending one minute clearing your mind before you go into conversations with other people.
As always, analyze and execute.
Go through your whole list and identify what the opposite of each item is. Once you have determined your opposites, circle the three you think would most help you become a better listener, and then start doing them. Try doing them for a month and then reflect and evaluate how that’s helped you, how it’s impacted your ability to achieve your goals, and build better relationships with people.
Here’s a simple, yet practical worksheet to help get you started!
And if you’d like to talk more about becoming a better listener, I’m available for 1:1 coaching – click here to schedule your Complimentary Get Acquainted Call.