Archives for September 2016
Listening Saves You Time
Are you a good listener? You may think you are, but are you actually putting your whole head and heart into the task?
“But I don’t have time to listen to the …” are often used words from the less effective and poor listeners. You may think you are a good listener … you are probably not as good as you think.
Good listening actually saves you time. Let’s take a closer look at how to be a good listener and how to save time by listening. The top attribute of the best senior leaders is that they are good listeners.
Hearing what others say is not good listening. Having the other person feel you heard them is being a good listener.
The Listening Executive
When asked for the traits of a good listener, these are the responses from some of our top level clients:
- Great eye contact.
- Pushes other things aside to listen.
- Asks great follow up questions seeking understanding.
- Relaxed in the midst of busyness.
- Facial reactions indicated listening.
- Used eye contact to really connect and focus.
- Paused to think before responding.
- Sought to understand.
- Non-verbals communicated listening.
- Did not multi-task.
When asked how these sets of listening behaviors left them feeling, the same group responded:
- This person cares about me.
- I’m important to this person.
- I have this person’s attention.
- This person is approachable and accessible.
- My interests are his interests.
- I can make a difference (so hard to communicate to your employees).
Did you catch that last one? Good listening helps those who report to you feel like they can make a difference. This is a great perception to transfer to your employees that makes for a better organization.
The best listeners are very busy too; just like the rest of us.
The major objection we often hear to making the effort for better listening is “I’m just too busy. I just don’t have the time!”
We get that. We also get that reasonable sounding excuses are one of the major factors that keep good professionals, executives and CEO’s from being great professionals, executives and CEO’s. So we all need to get over that excuse.
Here’s the encouraging bottom line: Good listening skills actually save you time!
“What can I do for you right now?” can focus the other person on their topic. Then you make sure you fully understand what they are saying and feeling. In a very short period of time (just a few minutes, really) you can make someone feel completely listened to and motivated. You’ll be pleasantly stunned at the results.
Leaders who are great listeners are just as busy as anyone else, if not more. The crucial difference, the difference that makes a huge difference is simple that they have learned to be fully present when listening. Even if it’s just for two minutes or less, they can make the speaker feel totally listened to and valuable.
Key Communication Differences for Each Decade of Your Career
Powerful interpersonal communication is a key factor in your success as an executive or professional. What the vast majority of career executives do not know is that the communication skills necessary for success in the 20’s are not the same communication skills necessary for success in your 40’s or 50’s.
Let’s take a closer look at the interpersonal communication skills necessary for each decade of your career, and the differences in each decade.
The same behaviors we accept from a 25-year-old we won’t accept from someone who is 35 or 45 years old.
The 20s – In your 20s, it’s all about making your mark through task completion which allows you to be a great individual producer.
We’ve all known people who get stuck in a task orientation mindset that lasts late into their careers. They were probably recognized for how well they did tasks in their 20s, so they have a challenging time letting go of that reward decades later.
The 20’s are a time to be building your relationship skills and industry knowledge while personally getting things done in a noticeable way.
The 30s – In your 30s you’re expected to collaborate. You have to develop the ability to enlist the support of others rather than doing it all alone. Often your life has more demands such as family or living in a new country.
There is a growing recognition that your job is getting bigger and you can’t do it all yourself. Your choices at this point can lead to missteps or set the stage for accelerated career growth.
Influencing cross-functional change, speaking up early and with confidence are beginning to become much more important at this time.
The 40s – The years of the early 40s are the most pivotal point in your career trajectory, because they determine where you’ll end up years later. Studies have shown some greatly accelerate, some flatten out, and others drop out. It all depends on the choices you make. You can break out or burn out in your 40s. You are know the person your employees talk about at the dinner table.
Your 40s can be a time of metamorphosis that will propel you through the last half of your career or a mid-life crisis that can stall you out. Relationships become more important than the tasks you do personally. Can you influence, persuade and motivate others to get things done?
The 50s and beyond – This is the period of harvesting the hard work you’ve done for the last several decades. In your 50s and 60s seasoned leadership is displayed by moving large groups to successful outcomes with value-based integrity and wisdom gained through impeccable listening. You have the opportunity to be a role model and keeper of the culture no matter what level you are in the organization.
Being an outstanding listener who is able to provide wisdom in simple and concise terms is the key skill.
All of these things help you build your legacy. A big-picture, strategic view is necessary since you’re now the orchestra conductor looking at the musical score for all the musicians.