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Listen Up. Your Career Depends On It.

Take Charge of Your Career: Learn to Listen

You have two ears, are you using them? Here’s how to leverage them more effectively to be a better listener.

Listening is a key skill for any leader, especially in today’s world where leaders are more dependant than ever on feedback from the front line. Things are changing too fast for any individual to keep up in a vacuum. Having an environment where people feel free to speak up, and respected when they do, is vital.

For many years I struggled with feedback I received that I was not a good listener. In my efforts to improve in this area I found a couple of changes to my behavior that proved invaluable.

Three Tips to Become a Better Listener

  1. Seek Input To Glean Insight From Others: When you are the leader it is especially important that you seek input from others upfront before stating your views. I am an extrovert and quickly ready to share my views. When you do this, you shut down input from subordinates and others who may not feel comfortable stating a view that is counter to yours. So when asked what I thought about an issue, my response became, I’m not sure, what are your thoughts. This simple change allowed me to solicit many great ideas I had not earlier considered. I found that it often changed my view on how to proceed. So no matter if you think you know the answer, remember to seek first to glean insights from others.

  2. Don’t Interrupt. Listen. Take Notes: Another bad listening habit I had was to butt in on others when they were speaking. Many times I did this because I would have a new thought come into my mind and I wanted to make the point before I forgot. I disciplined myself to jot down a key word that would prompt me back to that thought when the speaker was finished. This simple change allowed me to get in all my thoughts without alienating others.

  3. Acknowledge What Other People Say Before Offering Your Point of View: Sometimes people would say, “ You are not listening”. When in fact, I was, I just did not agree with what they were saying. I learned to repeat what was being said to me so that the receiver would know I had heard them. Then I would proceed with a discussion of why I did not agree.

After adopting these 3 easy changes I no longer received constructive feedback about my listening skills. In fact, listening became a strength for me.

What additional tips do you have to share about listening? Join the discussion here or @Becky_Blalock on Twitter.

Becky Blalock is a C-Suite IT Executive, Thought Leader, Board Member, Speaker, and Author. Her best-selling book DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge is available on amazon.

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