Listening to Listen

Engaged listening concept: active listening to understand and empathize.

Listening to Listen

Far too often, we don’t truly listen to understand what the other person is saying; instead, we listen merely to respond. Neglecting genuine listening is a grave error, one that we all too easily succumb to. Consider how you felt the last time you conversed with a leader who seemed distracted throughout your interaction.

I’ve found myself on both ends of this spectrum. There have been occasions when people came into my office, and I continued working without giving them my full attention until after they had left. It wasn’t until later that I realized the impact of my actions. I thought I was too busy to spare a few moments to listen attentively. How did this affect them? I understand firsthand because I’ve been in their shoes, feeling overlooked and unimportant when someone fails to acknowledge my presence or engage with me during a conversation.

Have you experienced this before? Perhaps with your partner, children, parents, or friends? How would you feel if your emotions were disregarded?

It’s essential to take the time to genuinely listen to what others have to say. Dean Graziosi emphasizes the importance of listening twice as much as talking during negotiations. This approach ensures a clear understanding of others’ needs and enables them to articulate their position effectively. What a valuable principle—to listen so attentively that negotiation becomes unnecessary!

Listening goes beyond simply stopping and looking at the person speaking. Too often, we listen only to formulate our response rather than truly hearing their message. I’ve certainly been guilty of this far too many times. I must remind myself daily to listen attentively to others’ needs and thoughts, resisting the urge to think ahead while they are speaking. I aim to listen not to appear clever but to genuinely understand and acknowledge their perspective.

Not every question requires an immediate answer. As I often say (yes, I quoted myself), sometimes all that’s needed is to listen and let others know they’ve been heard.

In the past, I’ve had a manager who would interrupt me mid-sentence to offer his solution, often unrelated to the issue at hand. This behavior was frustrating and made me realize that he was a boss, not a leader. Consequently, I didn’t remain in that position for long, seeking employment under a true leader.

Are people leaving your department frequently? It could be due to something as seemingly insignificant as your listening skills. When people don’t feel heard, they don’t feel valued. Take a moment today to truly listen to everyone who crosses your path. When answering the phone, inquire about their day and genuinely listen to their response. Ask relevant questions and engage in meaningful dialogue.

During conversations, avoid steering the dialogue toward the questions you want to ask; instead, focus on asking questions that are relevant to the ongoing discussion.

In my experience, I’ve encountered employees who struggle with listening, and as a leader, this can be incredibly frustrating. Similarly, children often listen to their parents only about half of the time, if we’re fortunate. However, as an employee, listening is just as crucial as it is for a leader. When your supervisor speaks, it’s essential to listen attentively. If you’re tasked with visiting a specific client, don’t delay or postpone; there’s a reason you were chosen for that assignment. Likewise, if given specific instructions on how to complete a spreadsheet, it’s imperative to follow those directions precisely. Your team provides guidance for a reason, and while you’re encouraged to share your ideas, it’s essential to discuss them with the team rather than implementing changes unilaterally.

Listening is one of the most vital skills we practice daily, and it holds significance for everyone.

P.S. It’s important to acknowledge that I’m not exempt from imperfections, and I’m aware of my listening challenges. As I write these blogs, I take the advice to heart each time. Thank you for taking the time to read.

Enhance your faith-led leadership journey with God First Life Next. Explore empowering insights at “Listening To God” Let faith guide your leadership. Click for purposeful living at

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