Listening To Your Team And Your Marketplace As A Leader
Listening is not easy.
We can hear what is being said but understanding it and acting with reason based on reality is a skill we must learn. It’s often said we listen to reply but not to understand. Often this is because we are confident in the perceptions that have given us predetermined insight into a situation. The thing is, when we listen to what’s being said, we are offered a whole range of new and conscious things that we know they are thinking about. So our predetermined ideas may be wrong or they may be right, but the fact is that we’re not being asked about those. They’d go to a psychic for that kind of advice, right? Your job is to listen to their conscious and life-affecting issue and act with reason.
Leaders have Authority
A leader has a psychological upper hand. They may not be richer or more well-dressed, but when they’re leading you, you accept their authority in the given area. Some people will instantly offer you submission by showing body language and saying things like “It’s completely up to you”. We’ve all been there when we know absolutely nothing about the situation. For some people, accepting someone’s upper hand is difficult. It’s a matter of pride and learned behaviour. We, therefore, need to show compassion to both kinds of people. One will let you run them around the garden and the other really doesn’t want to admit that you know better than them. Be gentle and caring with this truth, and be strong enough to not let them get away with something you don’t like.
The Service Mentality
This upper-hand scenario can be used to your benefit. By listening with a service mentality, by looking to solve problems with simple and attainable solutions, the person talking suddenly feels empowered, confident, and liberated. It may take them a while to get used to this, after all, you are here to help not to hinder. They chose to come to you and ask for your understanding and by giving them this and more you can establish trust and loyalty. These things are precious and cannot be misused. If your intention is to abuse these things then you’ll be found out and hounded out.
Appreciate With Full Attention
When we listen it can be like skimming stones. We get a little splash and a few ripples but the object doesn’t sink in. We can offer just enough conscious understanding to get a taste of what is being said. Every word they say can be treated like pebbles being dropped into our wishing well. We are the genie or the fairy, whatever you like, and can grant wishes. We must start by offering our whole perceptions. We do it with stories, sports games, and strange things we see on the street, why not with the person offering us their intimate thoughts? All thoughts are intimate - before you deny anything. We don’t have to say anything. Let the feelings flow as if it was you in their shoes, accept their situation, and feel safe with the empathic connection you know is available. They need you to do this if you want to lead them.
The Miraculous Ear
Sometimes the best solution for a person is the act of listening in itself. When we empathise and react sympathetically to their information on a human level, we offer a connectedness to humanity. We validate their experience and actualise their perception of it. Often we are prone to second-guessing or showing bias towards other people when we are under-represented somehow, but for someone to appreciate how it must feel for us as an equal partner, it makes the facts more wholesome and solid. This is necessary for correctly reasoned responses.
Recommended Read: Listening Skills Pocketbook (Management Pocketbook)
Be Willing To Dispell Illusions
Sometimes we have a good idea about what we know is really best in a situation but a person is informing us that it’s not the way forward in their opinion. As a leader, this puts us in a difficult dilemma. Do we, for example, sell them an unhealthy product? Do we tell them they can get the over-priced house if they really want it? Capitalism says yes but good leadership says no. We must offer a genuine article or nothing at all. We can acknowledge what a person says and allow them absolute liberty to follow their ideas but communicating their best intentions from our perspective needs to happen.
Recommended Read: You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters
They Hand Us The Spanner
What they tell us about their priorities and needs are the tools for offering genuine information that they so far are not accepting. Our basic desires and moral structure are unified across human culture. There are major differences in the world, based on religion and politics usually, but we can all agree on a lot of basic fundamentals. When we can identify which of these are in the focus of a person we are listening to, these are the fulcra for adding new perspectives. By accepting their truth and drawing lines to what we have to say about it, the grey areas in between can be addressed from the same viewpoint.
Listen To Understand Then Act
So in short, by listening with an intention to understand, accept, and empathise, we can think of the best way to offer our side of the conversation. But be clear, some people want to be listened to and have no real desire for what you have to say. These people are actually offering us a great level of respect. By letting down their guard and showing us their true selves, they’re placing a lot of trust in us. We can’t spoil that by reacting like we judge them harshly or have hurtful feelings about what they say. As a leader, there needs to be a level of respect between two people that enables us to lead and act with authority.