Planning to Listen

Planning to Listen



How much time have you spent crafting an email? How about planning a meeting agenda? A presentation? What about rehearsing a phone call before you made it? Jotted down a couple of notes before connecting with someone you supervise?

When we have something to say, usually we want to make sure it comes out right, that there is clarity. We want to make sure we do a great job.

When was the last time you prepared to listen? Listening is something I’ve worked on for a long time. When you have lots of words (like I do) and you have lots of “important” things to say (like I think I do), it’s easy to be so focused on trying to get thoughts out of your head instead of letting thoughts in.

Here are a few suggestions for preparing to listen:

  1. Beforehand, consider some questions that you may want to ask. Write them down.
  2. Jot a few notes down about what you want to say so you can spend your energy listening and not trying to remember your thoughts
  3. Remind yourself that others bring valuable contributions to the table, and you don’t want to miss them.

These may seem ridiculously simple, but its amazing how we forget to listen well. We listen for the purpose of determining when its our turn to talk. Or, we listen to know when to attack. Or we listen long enough to know when to prove our point. We listen with an agenda.

On the other hand, when we listen well we affirm people and help create a culture of a team. We build trust.

I think I’ve become a better listener by purposefully keeping my mouth shut and keeping my mind focused on what another person is saying. I don’t come to the table ready, I come open.

The next step in my learning process? Learning to ask the right questions.

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