“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menniger
1. Put your phone away
I was in a restaurant recently that when you checked in, they offered free dessert if everyone at the table would agree to put their phones in a basket, and then they would move the basket up front to the receptionist for the duration of the meal. It is a brilliant idea on the restaurant’s end but it is an incredibly sad thing to have to create. One of the things that will help us to be active listeners is putting our phones and technology away each time we interact with someone, even when we aren’t coerced with free desserts.
2. Use a pen and paper
I do not assume people at meetings are any different than I am, which means even if they have good intentions to take notes with a digital device, what they really do is start checking their social media and emails, and then they are no longer in that meeting. They may be in the room, but they are not in the meeting.
I think we are going to have to require the use of a pen and paper in our own lives and leadership but also hold our teams to the same standard. The data is clear: the retention of knowledge is far greater if you write it down versus using a digital device.
3. Approach meetings with an attitude of respect
This goes a step beyond listening and knowledge retention but it also is an acknowledgement of who you are in the meetings with, when you are listening actively you are telling others that they are important and that you value what they have to say. We have all unfortunately been in those meetings where we walk out and feel dishonored and discouraged. What a terrible thing to ever feel, dishonored simply because someone was so inept at listening and engaging with what you had to say.
[bctt tweet=”When you are listening actively you are telling others that they are important.” username=”ronkitchens”]
Active listening is going to be one of those things that will determine your success as a leader and a human even in our technology-driven society. Are you respecting each person that is speaking? Are you actively leaned in with an attitude of appreciation? If not, it is time to start.
Question: In which area (family, friends, business,etc) of your life do you need to be better at actively listening?