Listen Up!

Dr. Matthew Arau • Leadership TipsMarch 2023 • March 13, 2023

The greatest leaders listen more than they speak. And it’s not just listening, it’s how they listen. They listen to understand, to show they care, to show they are interested, and to learn. And they listen to show they value what others have to say and think. Everyone you lead wants to feel seen, valued, and heard, and listening deeply with intention honors those on your team. 

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, shares there are five levels of listening.

  1. Ignoring
  2. Pretending to Listen
  3. Selective Listening
  4. Attentive Listening
  5. Empathic Listening

As you look at this list, you can probably identify times you have listened in all five ways. But the one that is not on the list and is probably the most prevalent is listening to respond. Have you noticed when someone is speaking to you, you are only half listening because you are already formulating what you are going to say in response? When we are thinking of what we are going to say, we can’t be fully attentive, and we are not listening with empathy and compassion because we are distracted by our own thoughts. 

To build trust and open communication with those you lead, devote your attention fully to the person speaking and use these five listening strategies.

Put away distractions such as your phone, tablet, or computer and be fully engaged with the speaker.

Turn your entire body towards the speaker. Remember, where your heart goes, energy flows. 

Be aware of what your posture, body language, and facial expressions are communicating non-verbally.

Be fully present and listen intently to what the other person is saying to understand rather than to immediately respond.

While avoiding interrupting, ask questions for clarification to ensure understanding.

We have two ears and one mouth. Great leaders use them proportionately. They listen, then lead. So, listen up!

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