I go to a bible study on Thursdays. Usually, I have insights that people love to hear, and they always tell me that I opened their minds to new interpretations and understanding. That, of course makes me feel good. Today was not one of those days. I got a message before class that I was supposed to be silent and listen today. No, it wasn’t a call from the group leader, or a member of the class, or the Lead Teacher. It was in my head. You know where it came from. (see the Revelation parts of this blog…) Be silent and listen.
How many times do managers keep on talking and pay no attention to the people they manage? If you read the Fred Factor by Mark Sandborn, you will see that those who pay extraordinary attention to their people get extraordinary results. Sometimes you just ask a question and let people answer it in their own time with their own agenda. It’s the 1st step in coaching–listening to your players, your clients, your sales force. A new perspective and approach can change the dynamics of your group.
What happens when you don’t listen? Truly listen? You have a married couple arguing at the top of their voices in a restaurant. They are saying exactly the same things but using different words. So they are agreeing at a high volume. And both of them are upset that the other isn’t listening. What happens when you are talking to a teenager? They don’t have an adult vocabulary, so they may not be able to express what they are thinking. It’s the same with people who don’t speak your “language.” If you are management and you’re communicating with the IT team, you KNOW you will not be able to converse without a translator! Miscommunication can have disastrous affects! But if you spend time with people and just listen, you can get a sense of what they’re saying.
Here’s an example: A very successful person in the company came to visit the office. He’s unusual in that he sat in the back of the room and watched the interaction of the people in the office before he spoke. He then talked about the one thing the usual trainer doesn’t mention: how do you feel when you do something right? How do you capitalize on that feeling to continue to improve and have success? The regular trainer was talking about the nuts and bolts of how the product worked, and he had 1000’s of statistics. He couldn’t catch the imagination of his group, and certainly didn’t light the fire to get them motivated. The guest speaker got up and described a family he’d worked with, and how they felt, and how that made him feel. The ice started to melt. He then talked about how much the product had changed the way he lived. He got some reaction to that. Then he went around the room and asked people what their successes had been and what those meant to the people they helped. And he listened. He not only listened to the stories, but the emotions behind the stories, and the fears they felt and the dreams they had, and the feeling of family the whole group had.
What did I learn from my class today? I learned that many of the insights I had were mirrored in those ladies that answered the questions. They didn’t know I was only supposed to listen today, but they picked up the slack. They were not at a loss for words. The class wasn’t mired in silence and stuck without answers just because I didn’t offer my interpretation. If you are a leader, you must listen to the people you lead. You must listen on a deep level, and you must spend time with your people to understand how they communicate and what they communicate. In this way, you connect. If you ever read Maxwell’s book “Everyone communicates, Few Connect,” you know what I mean. I do a mastermind group that discusses this. It is the art and science of listening.
Truly listen this week and see what a difference it makes.