The Art of Listening

Today in my yoga class I could not overlook how many people have a tough time listening to spoken instructions. Most of the newer members need to see a yoga posture in order to do it. Having said that, I can remember that I had the same problem when I first attended a class but I have learned to listen more actively and that’s the main thing.

We live in an information driven world where we are influenced by so many fast pace technologies that it has become really tough to sit still, shut up and listen to what’s being said.

Well, what does this have to do with my business blog?

I think I just connected what I observed in my yoga class today with what I see in organizations all the time. I mean I know way too many managers who don’t listen and who couldn’t care less about connecting with their people. Their mission is simply to create profit and value for the shareholder. Nothing else is important.

Yesterday a manager shared some interesting thoughts with me……… He said that we have too many “nice weather” managers and not enough leaders who are able to lead through crisis. Most of them have never experienced difficult times like these but they are also not open-minded enough to learn new techniques which could help them to succeed.

He stopped for a moment to analyze his response to my question: Why do so many managers stop educating themselves once they reach a certain level in their career? His answer:

  • Many think they already have a wealth of knowledge and don’t see the value of continuous education (ego);
  • Many don’t have the time ( poor time management / self management skills);
  • Many don’t want to take the time because they have already arrived at their destination (how sad is that?!);
  • Many don’t have a boss who encourages them to take the path of continuous learning/education;

However, we live in a time of change and it is important that we understand that doing the same things every day will NOT deliver new results. To change the results we are getting, we must try new things and/or change the things we are doing.

My view is that learning means growing and if we stop growing, we may as well die.

There is absolutely no question about it that a company will become unstoppable if leaders put a conscious effort into understanding the people who work for them. If leaders care about their people, in turn, the people will care about the company.

In order to get a clear sense of what the environment is like within your organization you have to listen to your employees….., you have to listen to your co-workers……., and you have to listen to yourself. Not an easy task to do but it can be done.

Unfortunately so many managers think that they “have to know it all”. Why? If you have an important decision to make – why not ASK? I know that my teachers in school (in Europe) never really encouraged us to ask questions. In school we learned that we have to answer questions, not ask them. Does it now make sense as to why we are so hesitant to ask questions?

Please be aware that you should not have already an answer in mind when you ask a question. Be open-minded and listen to new ideas!

I heard somebody once say “people are not aware because they are not aware that they are not aware.” I really like that. I see it as my mission to help people increase their awareness to become the best they can be. What about you?

Carl Jung used to say “To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem.”

It sounds so easy and still isn’t done. Why not?

Do you know the dreams, hopes and frustrations of your employees?
Do you know if your employees trust your leadership style?
Do you know how much faith employees demonstrate in themselves?
When was the last time that you have listened to your people with the intent to understand?

In today’s marketplace it is essential that you do everything it takes to be a success. Why not enjoy a competitive advantage by doing things differently than your competition? – Ask questions, listen, and………..be courageous enough to take advice!

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