Why You Should Listen First

Courtesy of papershine the art of learning

The fine art of listening seems to be one that is fast becoming lost. It is ironical that in an information overloaded world, people actually has a lower propensity to absorb feedback and act on them.

I suppose that this could be an impact of the numerous digital distractions that plague one. With so much available at the tap of a screen and click of a mouse, who really needs to pay attention to the person in front of you anymore?

Unfortunately, purely relying on digital sources of information just isn't enough in effective management or the formulation of good policies. You need to have your antennae in the right places, at the right time, with the right people.

To be an effective leader and manager, you need to not only put your ear on the ground, but your heart on your sleeve. Whatever you are going to put in place needs to not only get the firm nod of your board members, executives and shareholders, but also your customers and employees.

As such, where possible, try to suss out what their views are and to listen actively. This will mean talking far less and paying a lot more attention.

According to Wikipedia,

Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important in order to fully attend to the speaker.

To be an active listener, you need to put aside distractions as much as possible and to focus on the person in front of you. You also need to try to let him or her air his views as much as possible in a freewheeling manner first. This also entails picking up not just the facts from the conversation, but more importantly, the feelings that go behind it. Body language signals are also important cues to observe.

The next time you want to enact a new policy, strategy or edict that will result in a "quantum leap in performance", do consider spending a couple of hours just listening to what people say. By doing so, you can gain the buy-in of your stakeholders and pick up critical points that are crucial in ensuring the effective implementation of your plan.

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