Being a good listener requires a student-first mentality. While we all have something to say, it’s easy to focus on just that, and in turn, we miss the opportunity to learn from others in the room. It’s often a good assumption that you’re not the smartest in the room, and by adopting that mindset, you’ll find it easier to be a student and start looking forward to what you can pick up from other leaders around you.
While it’s easy to think many of us have thought that being a good listener is of being a good listener being like being a sponge that accurately absorbs what the other person is saying, instead, what these findings show is that good listeners are really more like trampolines. The good listeners are people someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking. They make you feel better not merely passively absorbing, but by actively supporting. This lets you gain energy and height, just like someone jumping on a trampoline. Insight Global’s leadership consultant, Ryan Hawk, details four tips on becoming more like a trampoline and effective listener:
#1 Listening is an undervalued skill. Great leaders ask great questions and even better follow-up questions. The magic is in the follow up. If you want to go deep, you have to ask fantastic follow-up questions… and you can only do that if you are truly listening.
#2 Listen to non-verbal behavior: People say as much (if not more) with their actions, inactions, body language, facial expressions, etc., as they do with their verbal communications.
#3 Reflect back. Paraphrase what you think the other person is saying with responses such as: “What I’m hearing is…” or “Let me see if I’m following you…” Reflecting back on what you’ve heard signals that you’re attempting to understand fully.
#4 Maintain eye contact. This shows that you’re invested in the conversation. Try not to let your eyes wander to whatever is going on around you.
These tips are no myth; they’re recommended by some of the world’s greatest leaders in business and otherwise and are bound to elevate you in all of your professional pursuits. While being a good listener can help you find personal success, it can also help you understand, assist and problem-solve for those who look to you for guidance.
To learn more leadership skills from Ryan Hawk, check out his Insight Global sponsored podcast here.