Are You Still Listening?
If you are familiar with Pandora Radio, you probably recognize the question above that appears when you haven’t clicked your approval for song selections after some time has passed. I’ve been contemplating this query a lot lately, as well as the brief statement that follows it: “It’s no fun playing to an empty room”—especially in regards to the critical leadership skill of communication.
It really is no fun trying to share something when it seems the audience is missing in action. Think about that for a minute. How many times do you attempt to communicate with different people in your life and wonder: “Are you still listening? Were you ever listening?”
Communication is fundamental to the human experience, whether in our personal and professional lives—and it’s really crucial in terms of achieving satisfaction and success. In his book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect (2010), John Maxwell reports that the average person receives around thirty-five thousand messages each and every day. In addition, most men and women speak up to sixteen thousand words daily. Yet despite all of this verbiage, Maxwell contends people often miss many of the messages that are being sent to them. Why? Because there’s some type of disconnect in the process.
As a leader, being an effective communicator is essential to your success—as well as the success of other team members. In The Leading Edge (Wilke & Wilke, 2010), we share numerous strategies for developing a High Performance Team, including encouraging everyone in your Corporate Family™ to communicate with clarity, purpose, honesty, and passion (see Chapter Six of The Leading Edge for more details).
Part of effective communicating includes exceptional listening skills. In an article by Jayson Demers entitled 7 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master (see Entrepreneur, November 10th 2014) we discover that about 45% of our everyday experiences involve listening, but many individuals are terrible listeners. Obviously the ability to listen well is an essential skill that leaders must not only master but also cascade to others in their sphere of influence.
How can listening skills be improved upon? First and foremost, listening is more than just hearing what someone is saying—it is about attending (paying attention) and connecting with the information being communicated. At LEADon, we encourage the use of “clarifying questions” in the process of developing exceptional listening skills. For instance, when an individual has shared something that may not be completely clear, you can respond, “I heard you tell me __________________________. Is this correct?” Allow time for that person to reply, making sure the message he/she intended has been fully conveyed.
No one should leave a meeting or any kind of interpersonal interaction without completely comprehending what has been communicated. With some intentional effort, your Corporate Family™ members will decrease the chances for “Are you still listening?” types of questions when it comes to communication—whether at work, home, or anywhere in between!
If you need assistance improving communication skills in your Corporate Family™, please contact us at 858.592.0700—or visit www.leadon.biz. We’re not only able to help, but we also promise to be listening whenever you’re ready to connect!