When employees say they want their voices to be heard, what are they really saying? They’re saying they want leaders who will not just hear them, but really listen to them.
As employees seek more attention, feedback, and support, leaders must become more mindful of individual needs. This is in order to more effectively inspire professional development and overall performance.
Leaders who listen create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and generate loyalty. Moreover, they inspire their employees to be better and more productive workers.
A critical part of becoming a better listener is to understand and overcome the following sabotaging habits:
The natural desire to talk
Nearly everyone wants to tell their story and some people will talk over others to be heard. The majority of people want to tell others what they think, what they did, and, more importantly, what they know. In short, it’s more natural for us to talk rather than listen.
To overcome this, be curious about what other people have to say, instead of insisting on telling them your story.
Assessing is a critical part of leading people and helping them to achieve results. However, when assessing turns into judging, of another person’s values, beliefs, intelligence, personality, or background, it inhibits listening.
The next time you talk to anyone, consciously ask yourself if you’re actually listening to them or just judging them?
Having preconceptions and biases
Judgment comes in many forms. One form is preconceptions and bias. Preconceptions and bias stem from beliefs such as, “every time we talk, we go over the same ground”. This kind of thinking is not conducive to a collaborative environment.
When you speak with someone, be aware of your preconceptions and bias that might impede your ability to listen.
Giving in to the ego
The ego exists for a reason, it wants us to shine. Consequently, everyone has a need to be the smartest person in the room, or at least appear that way. However, the less we worry about appearances, and the more we listen and ask questions, the smarter we actually appear.
Instead of trying to show how smart you are, try asking questions to learn more about what others know.
Shutting people down
The habit of disagreeing shuts down the person and the conversation. We concentrate on the disagreement rather than the truth or the insight the other person may be offering. When you shut people off, you may miss critical information or knowledge.
When you find yourself shutting people down, become curious instead and listen for any insight that person may have for you.
As a leader, it’s difficult to know what’s troubling your employees or how you can help them perform better. Unless, that is, you really listen to them. Listening goes beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It requires you to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood, and natural behavioural tendencies.