Be the Boss Who Listens More

I’m sure you’ve been in situations where your boss talked endlessly, not giving you space to ask questions or offer suggestions. A supposed dialogue usually turned out to be a monologue.

Maybe, you’re also unaware you’ve monopolized conversations with others. Instead of having a chat, you might be giving a speech. Do you ever notice this happening?

If you believe you are often loquacious, you can temper the habit by understanding why. These are the reasons why people talk too much.

  • They’re obsessive. They want to cover every small detail and micromanage everything.
  • Some leaders want to re-affirm they’re in charge.
  • They’re unaware that they talk too much. Nobody has called their attention to their verboseness.
  • They’re aware, but they get carried away. They forget to press their internal pause button.
  • They’re vain and believe they know all the answers.
  • They’re unprepared and often say anything that comes to mind.

You might have your own reasons why you tend to over-communicate. Leaders with high emotional intelligence have enough courage to admit their flaws and shortcomings. Once aware, they immediately correct themselves. However, it doesn’t end with talking less. It continues by listening more.

Some claim that listening is a lost art. The digital age has changed behavior, including our ability to listen. According to Statista, time spent on social media increased every year. The worldwide average in 2019 is 2 hours and 24 minutes. Does this mean we are better listeners? The answer is no. Social media has given everyone a voice, but it made us talk more and listen less.

It’s time to bring back two-way communication. Your success as a leader depends on how well you listen to your colleagues. Bosses who fail to listen often find themselves out the door. No one, including you, is expected to know everything. When you encourage feedback, you gain new ideas and valuable insight.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you know; but when you listen, you learn something new.” – The Dalai Lama

Get into the habit of listening.

It’s going to take a lot of effort if you wish to become a better listener. It’s bad enough to only retain 50% of what was said right after we hear it. This is compounded by what many call internal noise. We may be listening, but our attention isn’t 100% because our minds are focused on other things. This happens to everyone. However, with enough determination and by adopting the tips below, you can improve your listening skills.

  1. Shut out all distractions. When you are in a meeting or talking with just one person, pocket your smartphone or close your laptop’s lid. If you’re writing, put your pen down.
    Clear your mind and focus on the person who is talking. You might say this is easier said than done. Honestly, all it takes is a conscious effort to be attentive.
  2. Assign time for meetings. Dedicate the exact hour of the day when you need to talk to your colleagues or subordinates. Prepare what topics need to be discussed.
    Scheduling also means picking a convenient time for your employees. They may be busy too with their own responsibilities.
  3. Ask for comments. The best way is to address each person attending your meeting when asking for feedback. This will show you value their input. Make sure you’re taking notes of what they’re saying.
  4. Be mindful of others’ gestures. The body language of people speaks more than what they say.
  5. Remind yourself when it’s your turn to listen. When someone’s talking, tell yourself to listen. Remember, you’re surrounded by employees who may know better than you.

Smart bosses recognize that two-way communication contributes to the success of an organization. They’re aware they don’t have a monopoly on the best ideas. Above all, they talk, listen, learn and reflect. When you do the same, you’re on your way to becoming a better boss.

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