Listening? Or Not?

Listening is complex – similar to high-speed traffic zipping on a busy highway. Others listen to us, and we listen to them as we constantly code and decode messages.

Leaders create space for others to engage fully in communication. And listening is vital to that effort.

Listening is not just hearing. It includes understanding the meaning and intent behind what is said and purposely engaging in the communication process.  

Why Listen

“If you want to become a better leader, you must become a better listener.”

– John Maxwell

Listening is a necessity for leaders because it is –

✅ essential when interacting with team members and colleagues. 

✅ vital in elevating organization, team, and personal success.

What Blocks Listening

Listening is blocked when we –

  • Focus on the points we want to share, offering no room for others’ questions or viewpoints.
  • Filter what we hear based on our views, and disregard what we consider irrelevant.
  • Zoom in on body language (facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, etc.) to help interpret what we hear. However, when this happens, it could distract from receiving the intended message.
  • Discount the person talking, resulting in less trust in the message.
  • Think ahead of the speaker, anticipating where they are going with their points and how to respond. 

How to Improve Listening

To improve listening –

✅ Tune out distractions – be fully present now.

✅ Use silence to give space for others to express their perspectives; allow time for others to think and re-engage in the discussion. 

✅ Seek to understand others’ views, feelings, and what they are dealing with relevant to the situation. Ask open-ended questions (avoid “why” questions). Paraphrase what you hear to confirm your understanding.

✅ Practice patience – allow others to speak without interruption.

✅ Work to remain neutral and non-judgmental in responses to create a safe space for open dialogue.

Removing listening blocks and improving behaviors signal a value of others, a willingness to flex leadership style and approach to meet the needs of others, and an openness to learning and change.

Doing so creates the atmosphere for higher employee engagement.

A Next Step

You don’t have to go it alone. Contact me for a complimentary consultation:

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport

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Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and leadership strategist. Her signature program, M3 LeadershipSM, prepares you to enhance and develop your self-awareness, embrace your inner strength, and lead with confidence, courage, and impact.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.