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  • feedwordpress 16:21:06 on 2019/11/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Listen, , understand   

    Asking someone ‘How are you?’ doesn’t go far enough 


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    I’ve often wondered the true meaning of the words “how are you”? When someone says, “how are you”, do they really care how you are or are they just being polite?

    For example, I received an email from an acquaintance that started with “how are you”, then went right into her request. I don’t think she really cares how I am.

    As a contrast, I ran into someone in the supermarket who asked me how I was. Then she followed up with questions about work, summer plans, and made me promise to give regards to my family. I think she actually cares about how I am.

    The phrase “how are you” was first recorded in the late 18th century, when it was used to mean ‘something very small and insignificant’. According to Psychology Today, whether or not you are actually interested in someone depends on a number of factors:

    • How well do you know this person?
    • Does the individual seem ill or have a history of being ill?
    • Are you aware that something has been troubling this person?

    As an example, every day I grab a cup of coffee at a local shop. Over the past year, I noticed the normally chatty checkout woman seemed unhappy. Her typical contagious smile was replaced with a silent frown. I didn’t know her well enough to ask if something was wrong.

    Fast forward about a year, her personality changed back again. She also looked different; lighter, happier and was sporting a new hair style. So, I said “you look great, I love your hair. How have you been?” I was truly interested.

    That’s when she told me she had been ill but was doing much better now. The hair wasn’t hers, but she was glad I liked it.

    Many people are private. Some don’t want to burden you with their problems. Others don’t follow up with questions to indicate that they are truly interested in what you’re saying.

    I wondered how this translates to our work lives and two very different situations came to mind.

    Situation One: We were providing leadership communications coaching at an automotive company where the sales director felt disrespected. He said he was tired of playing therapist and didn’t want employees coming to him with their personal problems. Sales were down and he blamed his subordinates. During role-playing which was videotaped, he was gruff, failed to make eye contact and was often multi-tasking instead of listening. When he spoke, he barked orders and rarely asked questions. He didn’t appear to value the opinions of others and told me, he was the boss so they should do what he says and not question his authority. Wow.

    What was apparent to me, but not to him, is that his employees didn’t like him. More importantly, they didn’t trust him. Trust and communication are centerpieces of all relationships whether professional or personal. If employees don’t trust leadership, it affects productivity and morale. When communication is one-sided, employees are less engaged which typically leads to poor performance and job dissatisfaction.

    Situation Two: I work with a global CEO I greatly admire. He’s a people person. He says all business is personal and the more interest he takes in his employees, the more committed and productive they are. Even though he can’t personally interact with 600 employees, he tries to meet with as many as possible. He said their opinions drive innovation and change. He makes it a point to have lunch in the employee cafeterias when visiting different job sites and invites employees to join him. His company boasts very low employee turnover.

    Back to the sales director. After the role-playing, I played back the tape. At first, he was defensive. Defensiveness turned into embarrassment. He said he knew he cut people off, but never realized how negative he looked and sounded. He asked how he could improve. These are the tips I shared with him.

    Tip #1: Be empathetic. It’s important to recognize that employees have personal lives and personal problems can spill over to the workplace. If it’s serious like a health condition, divorce or death of a loved one, cut them some slack and choose your words carefully. Ask them if they help, a temporary schedule adjustment or time off.

    Tip #2: Listen to understand. If someone disagrees with you, instead of shutting them down, ask questions to better understand their perspective. Perhaps they were passed over for a promotion or they’re upset over the way a project is being managed. You don’t have to change your decision but listening signals respect. You may also gain insight that could be helpful moving forward.

    Tip #3: Be present. While your responsibilities may prevent you from being present in person, the more visible you are, the more connected people will feel to you. Technology such as video conferencing has made interacting remotely easier than ever. Look for ways to engage your employees face-to-face.

    So, the next time you’re about ask someone “how are you”, think about what those words really mean. If you genuinely care, then be fully present and listen to their response. If it’s simply a nicety or expression, perhaps a simple hello will do.

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  • feedwordpress 08:00:16 on 2019/09/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , Listen, , , ,   

    7 Important Habits of Leaders Who Know How to Listen 


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    Great leaders must be effective communicators. That means they have to know how to speak and write clearly—and it also means they also have to know how to listen. Most of us don’t think of listening as a communication skill, but it’s one of the most important. The best leaders are skilled at listening—here’s how they do it:

    They listen with full attention. Most people like to speak, but it’s far more rewarding to listen with your full attention. You retain more, and people talk more—because the sincerest form of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.

    They listen to learn. In most exchanges, people simply react to the latest comment — a logical and often effective approach. But the best leaders are listening to learn. They don’t track conversations as a back-and-forth but as a path to new information. Listening, learning and putting into practice what you’ve learned will always be the best way to build success.

    They listen to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply in the front of their mind. But true leaders know that in order to empathize and connect with others, you have to first understand them, and that understanding comes from good listening.

    They listen without interrupting. Most leaders have a genuine desire to be helpful, so it’s always tempting to chime in when someone’s speaking. But when you jump in to be helpful, you’re actually robbing them of the chance to fully express themselves and solve the problem on their own. Instead of rushing to respond when someone else speaks, try to zero in on what they’re actually saying. You can always offer help later if it’s still needed.

    They listen to form connections. The best listeners have developed their ability to hear and form connections—and then articulate the connecting points. When you listen and you are able to form connections with what is being spoken, you’ll find you’re well prepared to help people put their thoughts in context and decide what to do next.

    They listen without needing to reply. If you want to be known as a great communicator, you have to learn how to listen without thinking about your reply. As the old saying goes, we have two ears and one tongue. Focus entirely on understanding what’s being said.

    They listen to silence. Sometimes the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Listen for awkward pauses, omissions, hesitation. When you do, you’ll become aware of things you haven’t heard before..

    The most successful people I know are the ones who do more listening than talking. Great communication is more about hearing others than it is about being heard yourself.

    Lead from within: When you really listen well, you’ll be able to engage more deeply with your team, colleagues and customers, and that is the sign of great leadership.

     


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    Additional Reading you might enjoy:

     

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

    The post 7 Important Habits of Leaders Who Know How to Listen appeared first on Lolly Daskal.

     
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