Do you often find your team saying you don’t understand them? (203-3)
Effective leaders know the powerful secret of being a good listener. Read Luke 2:41-52.
The Old Testament required those of the Jewish faith to go to Jerusalem each year to make special offerings at the temple and take part in the Feast of Passover. Children, including Jesus, were left behind until they reached the age of accountability. When Jesus was 12 his parents took Him with them to the Passover but when they left Jerusalem for the trip home, unknown to His parents, Jesus stayed behind. After three days of searching, His parents found Jesus in the temple courts “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”
Even at age 12 Jesus was listening and asking questions. He never outgrew the habit of listening. Before ministering to needy people or telling them about the kingdom of God, Jesus often asked questions and then took time to listen to their answer. Jesus, the only perfect leader who ever lived, knew that to connect with people’s hearts, He had to actively listen to what they had to say.
Listening may seem like it comes easy to some leaders but that is only because they have paid their dues to become good listeners. Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. The ability to listen actively leads to our comprehension or the shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction. The enemies of active listening impede the flow of conversation. Such enemies of active listening include distractions, trigger words, pride, vocabulary, and limited attention span. Active listening means a leader must overcome personal interpretations, attitudes, biases, and prejudices. Listening is hard work and requires a leader’s full attention.
Some tips that will help any leader become a better active listener:
- Repeat back the other person’s account of the facts, thoughts and beliefs, feelings and emotions, wants, needs, motivation, hopes, and expectations.
- Look for the feelings or intent beyond the words.
- Resist your impulse to immediately answer questions.
- If you are confused tell the person you don’t understand and start again.
- Use eye contact and watch for body language that indicates intent or emotion.
- Be attentive even if that means leaning toward the speaker.
- Try to be empathic and nonjudgmental of the speaker.
Do you often find your team saying you don’t understand them? Do they often appear frustrated after a conversation with you? Is active listening a difficult area in your leadership? Consider that even Jesus worked at listening before he asked questions. Effective leaders listen for understanding before they respond.
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