“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” Karl A. Menniger
Books, articles, blogs, and anything written on the subject of communication, generally connects the importance of listening. Leaders, of all people, need to be good listeners.
The challenge of listening exists because we are usually thinking of how to respond. We wait until the other person breathes and we jump in with our thoughts.
How can we improve our ability to listen? A few suggestions include:
Remove distractions: Whether phone, television, computer, or whatever might fit in this category, we need to remove ourselves from it and give our attention to the other person.
Wait for the finish: This is the hardest one. Learning to wait and make sure someone has completed their thoughts is haunting, but we will have time to formulate how we want to respond.
Listen beyond the words: Body language and tone of voice are critical to understanding the meaning behind the words we hear.