How to Be a Better Leader by Being a Better Listener

In any relationship, what’s the one thing that makes you feel valued and cared for the most? If you said “being listened to,” then you’re like most people.

When someone doesn’t feel heard, they don’t feel valued. When someone doesn’t feel valued, especially on a team, they don’t want to be part of a working relationship or team. So even if you disagree with someone or they’re causing you trouble you don’t want to deal with, the best way to resolve it is not to silence them, but instead to make sure they feel heard by actually listening to them.

Here are a few tips on being a better listener and communicating that you’re receiving someone else’s feelings and message.

Body Language

Experts say that 90% of communication is non-verbal. So when someone comes to you with a complaint, concern, or just to talk, it’s important that you’re not distracted or acting like you don’t care. If you’re unsure whether or not your body language communicates that you are listening, ask yourself this: If someone were observing our conversation and couldn’t hear anything, but only see it, would they think that I’m listening well and receiving the other person’s information? Nod, maintain eye contact, and smile when appropriate.

Repeat To Make Sure You Understand

This is especially helpful when someone else is feeling frustrated. Listen to them and repeat to make sure that you understand correctly. This will not only clarify any errors, but make the other person feel like you really heard them. Try saying something like, “Okay, if I’m hearing you right, you’re saying that you feel….”

Allow Time to Think

If someone is telling you something you don’t like, instead of shutting them down immediately, say, “Okay, I’ve heard what you’re saying, but I need some time to think about this. So instead of giving you a hasty answer, I need to consider it from all angles. Can we revisit tomorrow?”

Don’t Interrupt

Finally, make sure that you’re not finishing someone else’s sentences or preventing them from telling what they need to say. Practice listening without talking. This can be very difficult for those who grew up in talkative families, but it’s important to realize that interrupting is something that causes some people to take great offense.

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