I think the saying goes something like, there’s a reason we were born with two ears and one mouth. 

 

Active listening is intentional, deliberate, and tiring.  It is also unapologetically a core value of a strong, secure leader.  

 

All day long we listen; in meetings, on calls, to direct reports, with managers. How many of you will admit to multitasking when listening?  I would venture that most, if not all of us, multitask a moderate percentage of our day, yours truly included.  And why not! In traditional business, the philosophy of multitasking is valued as an essential skill.  After all, if you have seven hours of calls and meetings each day, and you don’t want to work all night if you don’t multitask things just won’t get done.

 

What’s the difference between active listening and passive listening?

 

What does Active Listening look like:

1.     Sitting up straight (yes, we're heading back to elementary school)

2.     Making and sustaining eye contact

3.     Nodding your head or body in active response to what is being stated.

 

What does Active Listening sound like:

1.     Regularly checking what the other person is saying through clarifying questions

a.     What I think I hear you saying is XYZ.

b.     Could you tell me more about ABC?

c.     How did situation 123 make you feel?

2.     Resisting the one word yes/no dichotomy

a.     Questions are most purposeful when they are engaging.

3.     Not interrupting the speaker.

a.     The only way to listen is to actively pay attention without interruption

4.     Not repeating a similar story of your own

a.     Often in a conversation we fall into ‘story bricking’, answering another person's story with one of our own.  This ‘one-uping’ further silos relational interaction

 

What does Active Listening feel like:

1.     Uncomfortable at first. 

a.     Focusing on a colleague's story can be draining and awkward until you develop your own active listening pattern

2.     Fulfilling

a.     Listening actively allows one to enter into the narrative of a colleague and gain knowledge and respect beyond passive listening