R.Nicholls and L. Stevens presented a case that listening
is an underappreciated and poorly instructed skill that
has many barriers.
It is time to put it out front and center on this blog as a
skill all professionals need to pay attention to. Just how
do we do that?
Also, it is incumbent on our educational system to
engage students in regular exercises that will be an asset
in all endeavors.
Nicholls and Stevens write about a University of
Minnesota approach that improves outcomes. Notable
are four activities of the listener:
Engagement to have an idea what is coming and “think
ahead” to conclusions and generating a summary statement
Internal reflection about evidence, logic and
interfering features– emotions, background, completeness
Active listening to bridge all information, data and
circumstances pointing out what might not fit even at
intermediate points “Listening between the lines”
to assess emotions,
nonverbals, and speaker editing and emphasis.
The authors provide some appropriate cases and
suggestions some of which may apply in your situation.
Then, Zenger and Folkman reveal what you and I
think what we should do and that those things are not
enough to be a great leader-listener. As the key
requirement for being a leader is listening to others —
Key among them:
- deliberate on the substance of the message
- be alert to and observe all communication elements
- awareness of cultural, physical and behavioral biases and
- acknowledge and support deeply held features
- respect in not trying to hijack the initiative of the
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