👂🏼 Start by listening
That's the first step to care.
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Hey there 👋🏼
I was reading an article the other day about how to create a better connection with your team, and at one point, the suggestion was: listen. Truly listen.
It reminded me of so many peer and manager relationships where all I felt was that I was speaking to a wall. The so-called listener was waiting for me to stop talking, so it was their turn.
I felt naturally dismissed and got out of that conversation with a frustrating feeling.
So this is what I want to focus on this week. How we, as leaders, or managers, can improve our active listening skills, so our peers and teams genuinely feel like they are being heard.
Active listening is one of the best ways to connect deeply with your team. You build trust and have a clear picture of your team's problems and feelings. With this, you can also work on your empathy skills.
But let's not confuse active listening with critical listening. When actively listening, you're there to focus on the information and feelings shared. When doing critical listening, you listen accurately, digest the information and form an opinion on what you've heard.
Here are five tips for you to improve your active listening skills:
1. Pay attention
This should go without saying!
But I believe this is one of the most important things to highlight.
If you're unable to focus, stop everything you're doing and pay attention, be honest and say that.
We all have crazy schedules, and sometimes they don't align perfectly.
Be honest with your team and find the quickest possible time slot to have this conversation.
It might seem rude at first, but it's so much worse not to pay attention and lose the opportunity to help your team.
2. Ask open-ended questions
The beauty of open-ended questions is that you're allowing the speaker to roam through their mind with minimal to no direction.
Remember that an open-ended question can't be answered with a "yes" or a "no". You're asking the speaker to expand the idea and dive deeper into the topic.
Some ideas for open-ended questions:
Why do you think that happened?
What do you think about that?
Why do you think that situation developed like that?
Note that in all of the examples above, you have questions deprived of feeling or direction.
3. Show empathy
As you build on the trust relationship with your team, you'll see them sharing opinions and feelings.
It's a crucial moment for you as a leader as it is perfect for showing your empathic skills.
Empathy was overlooked entirely years ago, but, in my mind, nowadays, it is a cornerstone for every leader.
It unlocks a difficult barrier that so many leaders encounter with their teams. More often than not, teams don't trust their leaders because they believe you don't consider their feelings valid.
You need to be there to listen, not to judge.
4. Let the speaker complete their thought
Going back to the beginning of this newsletter, so many so-called listeners are there only to satisfy their advice monster.
Let me start by highlighting that this is their time. You're there to listen and provide advice when asked.
I find that saying small things like "I see" or "sure" can derail the speaker from their flow. I work on this every single day. I know I do it, and I need to check on it.
Check yourself the next time you have a session and see how often you interrupt with minor things.
5. Summarise your conversation
For the speaker, listening to your summary of what was just said is an excellent way for them to feel listened to.
At the end of the conversation, summarise the action points discussed and any other essential highlights you feel are worth mentioning.
This might seem very simple, but if you're still not actively listening, you'll find this very tricky.
Word of warning
Let me add something. For the speaker, there's a fine line between having a listener or someone faking like they're listening.
I see the "nod occasionally, so the other person feels like you're listening" tip across multiple websites. Every time I saw this in real life, it looked absolutely fake. You could see the looooong nods, but there was nobody home!
Pay attention to your body language. If you're not listening, it's straightforward to tell.
That's it from me. I hope you have a fantastic weekend and that this issue helps you create a deeper connection with your team by genuinely listening.
Truly listen to your team. Here are five tips to improve your active listening skills:
Ask open-ended questions
Let the speaker complete their thought
Summarise your conversation
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Have an incredible month! 💪🏼
Parada 👊🏼 A Leader's Mindset