“You’re are not listening to me,” I yelled at my boss.
I just spent 5 minutes explaining a problem we were having based on feedback that I received from my coworkers.
My boss interrupted me and said, “Michelle, you really shouldn’t listen to the whining of your colleagues. A real leader…”
And that is when I yelled. I know, you shouldn’t yell at your boss, but nothing says “I don’t give a crap about what you have to say” like an interruption with an irrelevant object lesson in leadership.
Frankly, I didn’t need the lesson because 1) I asked for this feedback; 2) I taught undergraduates for 10+ years so I know how to deal with whining; and 3) It had nothing to do with the problem at hand.
Whether your leading or speaking, it’s time to get out of your head and get into listening. Here are 5 tips to help you shut up and listen!
- Show up for the conversation – Be present. Focus on what is being said. If your mind begins to wander, re-focus on what the other person is saying. If you’re thinking about how to respond to what’s being said, you’re not listening. Tune in!
- Don’t ASSume – We often stop listening because we KNOW what the other person is going to say. This is incredibly arrogant and let’s face it – we don’t actually know. When we tune out, our brain fills in the gaps for us. Unfortunately, our brain tends to be incredibly wrong most of the time.
- Don’t interrupt – Hear the the other person out. Interrupting the other person sends the relational message that you don’t care what the other person has to say and ultimately that they aren’t of value to you.
- Eye contact is crucial – To be honest, I should have known my boss wasn’t listening to me. He wasn’t looking at me. When listening, maintain eye contact. It will keep you keyed in to the other person and help you pay attention. Eye contact is not just for speakers, it is for listeners too.
- Paraphrase back - A sign that you are listening is when you are able to paraphrase back to the other person what they just said. Even if you disagree with what is said – it says to the other person that you heard them, understand and value their opinion.
Listening is an under appreciated skill when developing relationships. How do you rate your own listening skills? I’m listening and would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!