How’s your listening?

Most leaders like to talk. We know communication is an essential leadership tool, but do we place the same level of emphasis and importance on active listening as we do communicating? We should.

I love this quote by Edgar Watson Howe,” No man would listen to you talk if he didn’t know it was his turn next.”  Yes, it’s comical, but there may be some truth to it.

Unfortunately, that may describe the way too many of us approach communication — people are too busy waiting for their turn to really focus on the conversation as opposed to gaining knowledge and insight into what the other person is sharing. Are you guilty of that? I know I have been.

When former President Lyndon B. Johnson was a senator from Texas, he kept a sign on his office wall that read, “You ain’t learnin’ nothin’ when you’re doin’ all the talkin’.” Guess that says it all.

Our ability to skillfully listen is one of the key ways in gaining influence with others. And of course, leadership is about influence.

Consider the following benefits to really listening:

  • Listening shows respect
  • Listening builds relationships
  • Listening increases knowledge
  • Listening generates ideas
  • Listening builds loyalty

Former President Woodrow Wilson once said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

We all know one of the foremost human needs is to be understood–if you are married, you know what I mean–just ask your spouse. Stay curious and interested my friend, we just might learn somethin’.