Active Listening in Leadership


Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you justknew they weren't really listening to you? Sure, they were looking at you,nodding along, making the appropriate sounds even. But you could tell theirmind was somewhere else. It's disappointing! It can make us feel insignificant,irritated or hurt, and even make us shut down. However, if we're honest, we'velikely been on both sides of a conversation like this.  

Listening is an invaluable skill in all relationships. Ashumans, we want to be heard and understood. We want to feel connected. This istrue in leadership as well. We want to create an environment that welcomes ouremployees and clients to speak up, and to share their ideas with confidencethey’re going to be met with someone who’s interested and eager to understand. 

What does a poor listener do?

While you’re talking, they’re thinking of what to say next

• They interrupt

• They change the subject

• They look at their phone or computer

• They zone out and look bored

We all know there is a difference between hearing and listening.Hearing is done with your ears and listening is done with your whole body; yourears, your eyes, your heart, and especially your brain. You were most likelyborn with the ability to hear and if you have children (or pets!) you know thatlistening is something that needs to be taught!  

What does an active listener do?

Sets everything else aside so there are no distractions

Makes eye contact with whoever is speaking

Pays attention to the tone, body language, facialexpressions, and emotions of the speaker

Seeks to hear, understand and care about what they’re saying 

Resists the urge to interrupt and saves any thoughts untilit's their turn  

Shows empathy  

Keeps their own emotions under control  

Asks questions  

Repeats or rephrases what they’ve heard to make sure theyunderstand

We’re busy, our brains are working overtime, and we areaddicted to multitasking. Our minds can easily drift during a meeting orconversation. Active listening does take effort for most people. Yet just likeany other skill, we can improve with practice and discipline! Take a moment tothink about yourself. What kind of listener are you? If you’re not sure, asksomeone you trust to be honest with you. Ask them where you could improve. 

We want to show up for the people in our lives as our bestselves. We all want to feel heard, understood and connected. Brushing up on ouractive listening skills can help!


“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones whodo more listening than talking.”
― Bernard M. Baruch


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