Have you ever had that boss or friend who you swear loves to talk. Talk about anything and everything. And when you try to get a word in they jump right in with another story or something about them? In Steven Covey’s book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” one thing you can do to win friends and influence people is listen. Not just listen but listen with a clear mind. Understand and remember what the person is talking about.
To become that great leader. That Level 5 leader that John Maxwell talks about in his books. That leader that everyone looks up to and respects at work. You will need to become a great listener. Become the best listener you know. It’s not hard. I have been told that I am a leader who cares about my people. That understands my people. That takes an interest in my people. That wants to help my people. I have been told this by colleagues, management, and my team members. I attribute this to becoming a great listener. When you listen and understand people something triggers. They can trust you more than most.
I have not always been a great listener… Just ask my mom. I had to learn to become a great listener. For me there are just 5 simple rules to becoming a great leader.
The 5 key strategies to becoming a better listener are:
1. Shut your mouth – Yes i’m being blunt but honest. Everyone has that urge to want to jump in and share an experience or make a comment, or just let the
person know you can relate. In reality your not. When you speak up you take the focus off the person talking and back on yourself. Just sit there and be quiet. I know you will want to jump in and make a comment but don’t. Keep the focus on the person you are talking with.
2. Use the Listen to Talk ratio – Yes I just told you to shut your mouth in strategy one but this will take some practice. You want the person you are talking with to talk 90% of the time and you can only talk 10% of the time or less. That means if you have 10 minutes to talk to somebody you can’t talk longer then 1 minute. With time this ratio can reduce but you want to make sure you built that perception as being a leader who listens. Your listen to talk ratio should be 10:1.
3. Repeat key topics back to the person – I find that if I summarize what a person just told me and repeat it back it will build agreement that the person knows you are listening. Repeat back to them in 10 – 20 words what they just said. They will usually even open up more and keep building on the topic they are talking to you about and telling you more. This is good. You want people to feel comfortable and to open up. Repeating key topics with names back to them builds this trust.
4. Take notes – Keep as much eye contact as possible but take notes. Not extensive notes. Just bullets. This is what is important to build the 5th key strategy.
5. Follow up with the person in 1, 2, or 7 days – Whatever time works best follow up with the person you had a conversation with. Maybe it’s just checking to see how their child or parent is doing if they were talking to you about an illness or other topic. Maybe the person was consulting with you on a big project that is due or presentation. Follow up with them the day before and see if they need any support. It’s also to follow up with them after a big speech
or project due date. This is where notes work well. Even write key dates in on your task list or calendar.
That’s it. These 5 simple strategies. The hardest one is number 1. If you can follow number 1 steps 2 – 5 are a piece of cake. Just do these simple 5 things and you will be a rock star. You will become a leader that starts to transform teams and relationships. These steps work at work, with friends, with family members.
Let us know what you think… Were listening 🙂