Listening: The Secret Sauce to Great Results

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Listening: The Secret Sauce to Great Results

“When one person is doing most of the talking, no one is listening – not even the person talking.”  – Kim LaFever

It’s the Meeting from Hell (MTH) and we’ve all been there.  You know, the one where someone, or maybe two people, dominate the air time. Meanwhile, the rest of the group sits distractedly by, wishing they could get a word in, or hopeful that time will simply run out and they will be set free.

The result? It might seem like we moved ahead but we haven’t, not really.  If anything, we’ve been set up for Groundhog’s Day where the same meeting gets repeated over and over again without any real, meaningful action.  Uggh.

Think about your meetings and conversations.  If you’re spending the majority of the time talking, you’ve already lost the game.
This is the main topic that has come up with clients the most this year, with these types of questions in tow:

  • How can we make sure that all voices are heard?
  • How do I help my direct reports become more aware of their impact on others?
  • What can be done about the person who drones on too long?

They asking for the magic skill, the secret sauce, an app or book that could solve it all.  What they are really looking for is two simple (but not easy) things: self-awareness and listening skills.

Many of us think we are good listeners.  But are we, really?  Test yourself against some of the top 10 things that good listeners do:

  1. They aren’t doing most of the talking
  2. They signal interest by leaning forward (leaning in vs. “looming in” which can signal dominance)
  3. They make eye contact without staring, looking at devices, looking down, or out the window
  4. They offer head nods to signal interest and prompt others to say more
  5. They ask open ended questions that allow for answers beyond just yes and no
  6. They listen for meaning and seek to understand
  7. They offer a slight smile and/or open-palm gestures to signal openness and connection
  8. They let go of their pre-determined position on a topic
  9. They aren’t doing most of the talking

The best team environments are learning-oriented and that requires listening. Research shows that these teams tend to share the air time almost equally across team members.  It’s not because they set timers so everyone gets a chance, but more because they have respect, trust, awareness, and rapport that allows for give and take to occur fluidly.

By sharing the air, we are more likely to get the best ideas on the table, create real alignment, build opportunities for innovation, and enjoy working together more. 

Want to change the impact you are making? Start by looking to the one thing you can change: you.  Consider a conversation or meeting you participated in recently and ask yourself:

  • Would others have benefited more from you talking less?
  • Did you find yourself trying to force a solution or advance your own agenda?  If yes, what is it about getting your way or being “in charge” that matters so much to you?
  • Lastly, if you tend to hold back and let others do most of the talking, what would it take for you to step out more boldly?

At Positive Disruption we specialize in working with companies who know that change done well creates better results, awesome levels of engagement, and a workplace that is THE BEST place to be!

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