When staff members come to us with a problem, we want to help them; we console, interpret, advise, distract or praise. Other times, we feel we must teach, interrogate, lecture, moralize or order. And probably more often than we’d like, we respond with blaming, criticizing or withdrawing.
However, all of these responses are problematic-whether with our staff, or with other adults in our lives. They often serve to stop the communication of real feelings and the development of individual solutions. Take the quiz below to assess your listening skills . Keep score of your true and false answers.
1. I let others feel their difficult feelings, knowing that comments such as “Everyone goes through this” or “Just trust God” deny the strength of their feelings.
2. I try to listen for the need beneath the words and respond to that.
3. I make it a point to check in to see if I’ve understood something in the way my staff member intended it. When I do, I try to keep my own feelings, opinions and guidance out of it.
4. When someone tells me something, I try to respond with either noncommittal phrases (such as “I see” or “Is that so”) or with an invitation to say more (such as “Tell me more” or “Go ahead, I’m listening”).
5. I notice that when I listen to my staff members, rather than make suggestions or give advice, my staff often come up with their own excellent solutions.
6. When I hear someone out fully, they are often much more willing to listen to my thoughts and ideas.
7. When I let others express their feelings openly and completely, the feelings seem to be more manageable.
8. I really want to hear what my staff member has to say; if I don’t have the time to listen right at that moment, I say so and make time for it later.
9. I’ve learned to trust that my staff member can find perfectly good solutions to their problems on their own.
10. I understand that my staff members are separate, unique individuals, and that their feelings and perceptions are not necessarily the same as mine.
11. When I stay away from moralizing, interpreting, ordering and advising, I find that I learn a lot more about others. Sometimes, I even learn from my staff members.
12. I know that just listening doesn’t always bring about immediate change and that it’s sometimes okay to leave things on an inconclusive or incomplete note.
13. I understand that listening to others express their feelings can help them accept a situation they know they cannot change.
Authentic communication with our staff members (and friends) has rewards more valuable than a pot of gold. Real listening may be the rainbow bridge we need to get there. If you scored more “false” answers than “true”, you could probably benefit from improving your listening skills.
If you have one or two “false” answers, your doing great as a listener. Three to five “false” answers and you need to work on your listening skills. Six or more “false” answers and you are in trouble as a leader.
Founder & President
Dr. Bill Graybill, a recognized expert in conflict resolution, team building and strategic planning. He works with organizations and leaders to build healthy and successful teams. Overcoming conflict by changing the culture ensures lasting results. Healthy teams are able to problem solve, create out-of-the-box solutions and move forward. Working with teams to accomplish this is Bill’s forte.
READY TO START THE NEXT CHAPTER OF YOUR STORY?
I would love to come alongside you and your team and help you achieve great success.