Self awareness leadership is about identifying where you would like to do better. One place to focus, is on how to be a better listener. Great listening is often a precursor to great leading.
Understanding someone’s underlying needs and values, and then being able to best meet those needs in servant leadership – can be one of those great gifts we can give to another.
Yet, it’s not just about listening more and talking less.
Here are 7 tips on how to be a better listener:
1. Listen to yourself first. Is there something you need to clear or take care of so that you can be a great listener? If you are exhausted or have your own stuff going on; sometimes the best form of self management is to admit it’s not the best time for you to listen. Take the time to clear things for yourself first, so that you can be an empty vessel for the other person’s expression.
If your vessel is already full; it’s really hard to give empathy to another when you haven’t yet given it to yourself.
2. Be really present. If you find you are crafting your response “BEFORE” the other person is finished speaking; it’s a sign that you are not being 100% present with them. It’s easy to forget that we can think a lot faster than we can talk. Realizing we still have plenty of time to create a response “after” they have completed their expression, is key.
Being 100% in your personal presence also allows you to listen more from non-judgmental awareness. You can then understand the other person rather than to achieve either agreement from or change in that person.
3. Use Verbal cues to demonstrate you are listening. The words and the vocal tone you use to express yourself, can show the other with a verbal acknowledgement you are both hearing and understanding their communication. It’s very common for some folks to have a “need” to be heard.
Demonstrating that you do indeed hear them – can be a wonderful gift. You can use such verbal cues such as expressing empathy, re-stating the essence of what you heard, or helping the other person to expand their own thinking.
4. Use non-verbal cues to demonstrate you are listening. Subtle body language like “leaning in” can be very soothing to the person you are listening to. This kind of body geography also gives you greater access to your own feeling senses as well.
5. Listen to more than just the words. Listen for meaning , values and needs. When you get to really understand the intention for their communication as well as their possible desires for fulfilment – it then gives you lots of opportunity to recognize how you can be of service.
When you understand what is truly important to someone – it’s a lot easier to serve with effectiveness and compassion.
6. Support the others’ self expression. The best way to support an other’s self expression is to listen as if you where in their shoes. When you take an empathetic stance– you gain a desire to follow their path instead of projecting your own feelings and ideas onto the other person. It allows you to be open and non protective, so that you can more easily focus on the other person.
It also provides the opportunity to imagine the perspectives and experiences of the other person; rather than just assuming they are the same as your own.
7. Use silence effectively. Allowing someone to vent or clear with their expression can often give the other the space to move forward with greater certainty faster than if you had filled the space with words. Using exercises, like a mindful listening exercise is a great way to practice silence while listening to different levels of communication.
Listen for people to say to you, “I loved our conversation” when you become a better listener.
What additional tips do you have to help someone learn how to listen better?