The time to listen is when someone needs to be heard. Listening is not something that just happens (that is hearing), it is a conscious action of learning to listen and listening to learn.
I love this story from the biography of Marion G. Romney..“His good-humoured love for Ida was manifested in many ways. He delighted in telling of her hearing loss. ‘I once went to see a doctor about her hearing,’ he would say. ‘He asked me how bad it was, and I said I didn’t know. He told me to go home and find out. The doctor instructed me to go into a far room and speak to her. Then I should move nearer and nearer until she does hear. Following the doctor’s instructions, I spoke to her from the bedroom while she was in the kitchen—no answer. I moved nearer and spoke again—no answer. So I went right up to the door of the kitchen and said, “Ida, can you hear me?” She responded, “What is it, Marion—I’ve answered you three times.”
So, how are you doing? At home, with your spouse or partner, with your children, in the workplace, with your direct reports, or around the executive board table? Are you running on auto-pilot, nodding at the right time, dropping in a cursory yes or no to give an impression of listening.
Can you do better? Do you want to change?
Some simple tips:
– Speak less
– Be attentive
– Slow down
– Practice! Repeat, repeat, repeat