Listen to More than Yourself
What is that you said? Listening is important? In today’s fast paced world filled with tons of communication through hours of meetings, 140 character tweets, social media, and a full inbox of emails, it is easy to not hear what is going on around you.
As an executive coach, the number one topic I help executives with is listening. Some leaders are technical experts and immediately rush to internal listening, listening to their own response to the question being asked. Some leaders are so busy that they aren’t listening for the signs that their team is exhausted, unaligned, or disengaged. Other leaders are just so busy that they are avoiding any interaction with other human beings and therefore not listening to those around them.
The Co-Active Training Institute, where I received some of my executive coaching training, in their book “Co-Active Coaching”, breaks down listening into three different levels of listening:
Level 1: Internal Listening – the awareness is on ourselves. We listen to the words of the other person, but our attention goes to what it means to us personally. This is when you start to think about what you think about the situation, what you feel, and how it impacts you.
Level 2: Focused Listening – a sharp focus on the other person. We listen to how it is impacting them, what they think, and what they feel. This is when you lean in, you reflect on what they are saying, and you truly listen to their words
Level 3: Global Listening – this includes everything you observe around you as you listen. It is body language, the environment around you, it is the mood of the room. It is when a difficult thing is said, and you feel the “air leave the room”.
To be an effective leader, you need to use all three levels of listening. Many of us are really good at Level 1.
This week, take some time to practice Level 2 and Level 3 listening. Focus on turning off your internal listening.
Listening builds trust, collaboration, engagement, and often better thought through solutions to challenging issues.
Are you listening?