What’s the best advice I can give you?

Just Shut Up And Listen!

Article on the importance of listening

Everybody is using COVID-19 as their excuse or their reasoning for the advice they give, but my advice is the same advice I’ve been giving for years.

Listening, I mean really listening, is a superpower that many people don’t have. I would go so far as to say it’s one of the most important leadership skills that a person could and should have, especially in business. It is also a very important sales skill, counselling skill, and relationship skill.

Throughout this article I’m going to give examples of listening skills by using similar examples that I give to my clients. Regardless of if it’s leadership coaching, executive mentoring, when I’m consulting to membership organisations, or when I’m giving sales training.

I shall outline them separately, yet the purpose of listening remains the same; good listeners become trusted advisors.

Relationship Skill

How often do you assume what your partner is saying and then jump right in with the answer? Even if you answer only sometimes, jumping in is still too often! Respect and trust are the foundations of every single relationship you have, yes ALL OF THEM! So, what are the foundations of respect and trust? One of them is listening, truly listening, not just waiting for your turn to speak.

Listening to the words, the tone, the subtle inflections all help in getting to the crux of any situation. For instance, if your partner asks, ‘would you like to order in tonight’, they may be trying to say, ‘I don’t want to cook’ or ‘I really feel like going out’. By truly listening you can respond appropriately to the real meaning by saying, ‘great, what did you want?’, or ‘great, where do you want to eat out?’. You could also be more direct in saying, ‘do you really want to go out, or just want me to cook tonight, I am up for either’ or ‘what sort of food do you want and I’ll either order it or cook it for you.’

By responding to what they are really asking builds that respect and trust and to find out what they really want you need to JUST SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

Counselling Skill

Picture yourself, you’re the CEO of your ideal company and meeting with your executive team. Are you the first to speak? Are you the only to speak? Are you the one whose voice is heard the most? If the answer is yes to most any of those then you most likely have a disengaged team, or at least you are well on your way to achieving that result.

Whilst you might need to be the first person to speak, maybe to set the tone of the meeting or to let people know what the meeting is for, you should not be the majority voice heard. The best leaders introduce the topics and ask the questions, then get the perspective of their entire team BEFORE sharing theirs. This way, before we speak, we know what our team genuinely think, and we minimise the potential of creating a ‘yes’ mentality within the team.

Like all leaders, every single one of my ideas is brilliant, nothing could ever possibly go wrong with them (this was hard to type whilst laughing and scoffing so hard!). In truth, as a leader my biggest fear has always been that my team don’t feel secure enough to share their true thoughts and feelings. I worry they don’t understand that my ego is not attached to my position, and that I thrive on respectful challenge and investigation of ideas.

Not being challenged is the biggest risk your organisation has. This includes a healthy amount of your decisions being challenged by your employees’ ideas. Innovation comes from someone, somewhere being positively disruptive to the status quo. As a leader, you need to ensure your team feel safe in sharing their ideas, so JUST SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

Article on the importance of listening