How many relationships have deteriorated due to lack of effective listening? How much organizational potential has been left un-tapped? How many children have not achieved their potential due to feeling a need to be compliant to direction?
Being an effective listener is one of the most important attributes of a servant leader! The better listener you are, the more influence you will have, and the more positive impact you will make on those in your life.
Nobody likes having a discussion with people who feel they have to dominate the discussion. Someone who feels they have to do all the talking and provide all the answers:
- Stifles discovery and creativity
- Creates helplessness in others
- Reduces energy
- Promotes compliance not relationship
- Creates bottlenecks
Conversely a person who listens well and enters into discussions being curious:
- Taps into new ideas
- Gives power
- Builds energy
- Builds relationships
- Enhances results of others
Listening is a skill that can be developed and improved with intentional effort. I promote the following structure for anyone in a conversation that wants to improve their listening:
- Listen 80% of the time
- Talk 20% of the time
- Half of talking time should be asking great open-ended questions
- Other half of talking time should be advising, messaging, and acknowledging
Other tips and practices that I have found helpful in my journey to improve my listening skills:
- Make a conscious effort to clear out my thoughts before starting a discussion.
- Pray for help and guidance to focus on the individual I am talking to, keeping them at the center of the discussion.
- Use all senses to indicate a true interest in the individual I am talking to. Appropriate body language, eye contact, and personal space are critical to connecting in a conversation.
- When I know I am going to verbally clarify back what I have heard it greatly enhances my focus on listening.
- Wait for silence before formulating the next question or comment.
- Be more interested than interesting!
What have you found to be helpful in becoming a better listener?
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19