Listening and Waiting January 9, 2009Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
Tags: Best Of 2009, Communication, Listening
I recently overheard an exceptionally useful observation: “Some people listen. Other people just wait to talk.”
Waiting to talk is easy. While the other person rambles on, you can politely gather your thoughts and prepare your next statement. When the noise level drops off for a moment, you can jump and and take your turn, sharing your very important thoughts and views. At that point, the other person begins listening, of course, and you can hold the floor until you run our of ideas or breath.
Listening is hard. To begin with, you have to pay attention. You have to absorb what is being said and think about the ideas being presented. There may not be enough time to come up with a response right away, and you may have to think and work a bit before you know what to say. Some silence might occur as a result, which can be awkward.
The effort of listening is rewarded with valuable conversations. Ideally, you’ll actually share ideas with someone else, and you might occasionally learn something. Everyone wins when people truly listen, even if you cannot agree on the topic at hand.
As leaders, communication is perhaps our most important tool. It is easy to view communication as a stream of information from us to our teams: coaching, advising, cajoling, and directing. But don’t forget: as soon as we stop listening, as soon as we start just waiting to talk, we lose a crucial connection with our people. Listening builds respect and trust, something that can never happen if you are just waiting to talk. And without respect and trust, true leadership can never occur.
So, what do you think? I’m listening…