How Successful Leaders Listen

collage of people on the phone

(DGIwire) —  When it comes to being a good leader, effectively communicating your ideas, vision and knowledge undoubtedly contribute to your success.  You need to be heard. But there are some times when you just need to listen. More often than not, people undervalue the art of listening. Being an effective listener can help you solve many problems and may even help prevent them in the first place.

Listening allows you to see things from another person’s perspective, one you may never have had access to. Once you’ve gained that perspective it can help you to develop empathy and understanding. While you may not always agree with that person’s perspective, knowing it lets you assess the “big picture” and can help your business move forward as a team.

Dian Griesel, PhD, a recognized crisis expert, offers the following suggestions to improve communication through better listening skills.

1. Be attentive. Keeping eye contact with the person lets them know that you are engaged in the conversation. Let them know that what they are saying is important to you.

2. Don’t rush it! Instead, focus on asking questions that bring value to the conversation. Take any extra time that might be needed for the person to express what is on his or her mind.

3. Free your mind. Don’t start the conversation with a pre-conceived opinion or outcome. Be open to what the person is saying and how it might relate to you as both a leader and an individual.

4. Watch that body! Pay attention to your body language. Look attentive and “present.”  You don’t want to make the person feel like you have anywhere else that you’d rather be.

5. Two Way Street. Body language goes both ways. Read what their body is saying and respond accordingly. By reacting to what you see, you can facilitate the flow of conversation. An understanding nod or smile can do wonders to put the person at ease.

6. Acknowledge. You might not agree with the message but something as simple as, “I hear you.” or “I understand” can make a world of difference. Let them know their viewpoint was heard.

7. Exercise humility. Be willing to be wrong. Show them that you really took to heart what you heard and that you will take the time to reflect on the conversation as it pertains to the betterment of the company.

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