Listening is a skill.

By Bill Kaiser, Vice President

And like any other skill, it requires focus, concentration, and practice to get better. I don’t know if there was ever a more important time for all of us to put in the extra work and get better at how and why we listen.

In our practice of The HPC Way, Fundamental #13 is Listen Generously:

Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” Be present and engaged. Quiet the noise in your head and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Create space for team members to express themselves without judgment. Listen with care and with empathy. Above all, listen to understand.

There is a lot to interpret in the sentences above, but for now I want to focus on 2 key aspects:

Letting go of the need to agree or disagree

A common trap many of us fall into is listening to respond. Not only is our eagerness to reply with a confirmation of what we’re hearing or launching into our opposing point of view, disrespectful to the speaker, it robs us of truly understanding what the speaker is saying. We’re so concerned with lobbying for our point of view that we are blinded to understanding a different one. The following quote from Rev. Robert W. Fisher sums it up perfectly.

“If you’re not listening with the thought of changing
your mind, you’re not really listening.”

Listening with empathy

In the 1960 Harper Lee classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, the fictional lawyer, tells his daughter Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his/her point of view, until you climb into his/her skin and walk around in it.”

A willingness to hear things from another’s perspective allows us to better understand that person and/or problem. If you explore issues through other peoples’ eyes, you have the opportunity to be a more innovative problem solver. You learn what really matters, where real value lies, and how you can help create outcomes that would otherwise never have occurred.

Think about some of your best relationships and favorite people. If I asked you to describe why they are special, I’m very confident that one of their attributes would be “a great listener.” They are genuinely interested in what you are saying. They want to understand your point of view. They don’t judge or rush to grab the podium. They make it about you.

I’ve been practicing this Fundamental since 2003 and need to get better. I own that and challenge you all to focus and concentrate on getting better with your listening skills. I’m sure we all have room to improve and there is no better time than today to make it a priority.

If you’d like to learn more about how practicing Fundamentals, like Listening Generously, can help create more clarity for your organization, just give us a call, or click on the button below.  

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