Listening is a skill ~ an art. The more I coach, either in a team setting or one on one, the more I realize how important it is to develop our ability to listen. The key to communication and influencing people is to listen first and talk second and very little. Seek first to understand and show your understanding and then seek to be understood. Heard this before? Sounds simple doesn’t it? Simpler said than done and so rarely done.

How skilled are you at listening, truly listening? Are you listening to what is being said and to what is not being said? Are you working at understanding and walking in their shoes or are you busy preparing your next line, rebuttal, or solution to their “problem?” Are you off somewhere else thinking about tonight’s dinner or your golf game tomorrow?

I invite and encourage you to take opportunities in the week ahead to listen, really listen, to those around you, your team, your clients and your loved ones. Be the true receiver of the information they are sharing. Be curious. Ask open ended questions. Listen carefully for the message. Indicate that you have heard and understood by paraphrasing back what you have heard. Ask more questions. They will be thankful. You will be amazed at your results.

One of my favourite poems taken from Sean Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” indicates the human desire to be heard and understood.
Please listen
When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way
you are trampling on my feelings
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem
you have failed me
strange as it may seem
Listen! All I ask is that you listen
Don’t talk or do—just hear me

– Sean Covey
7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens