An Important Aspect of Connecting with Others

Leadership and the ability to connect with your people are essential. One way a leader connects with their people is by taking the time to listen to them, which requires one to stop talking. I have observed many leaders and managers fail at connecting with others because they have not learned or applied this critical aspect of communication. This is a communication mistake every leader needs to avoid. The challenge comes because leaders often are required to spend a lot of time talking.  So taking the time to stop talking to pay attention to the other person is often overlooked. Abraham Lincoln said these practical words: 

“When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say – and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.”

Being intentional about a balance between talking and listening is important. The best balance would be to spend more time listening than talking. I have been around leaders who know the importance of listening and other who fail to realize the importance of this communication skill.

When a leader applies the skill of listening, the person or people start feeling listen to and understood. This causes them to begin to share their ideas and thoughts, and feel cared for as well as valued. When this begins to happen the followers begin to be more creative, united, motivated, and committed to the leader and organization. To help become better leaders who talk less and listen more here are four steps to improve our listening skills:

1.” Listen to clarify.”
2. “Listen to check the meaning and interpretation of others.”
3. “Listen to show understanding.”
4. “Listen to get feedback.”
~

Questions: How important do you think it is for a leader to talk less and listen more? Can you add to the list of ways to improve your listening skills?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Man, this is so true. I can’t think of all the times that simple miscommunications have snowballed out of control. Listening to clarify and confirm is crucial.

    • Loren,

      Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • As you mentioned, leaders, by default, tend to talk more. Many times, they are ones who take the initiative to talk. That’s a good quality. However they also need to take the initiative to listen and be models to others. Good practical steps, Dan.

    • Joe,

      Great points about taking the initiative to talk and listen. Its a key word when it comes to this topic. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  • Listening is VITAL!
    When there are communication problems, I think one of the best things to do is to repeat back to the other what they said and ask them if you are understanding it correctly. Keep doing this until they can say you understand their perspective. Once you know where they are coming from you can work from there on helping them understand where you are coming from. Plus it helps them realize you are not trying to control the conversation and force them into believing you, it lets them see their voice matters- plus they could have some very important information you could learn from.
    I’m not sure if I type this out clearly. It sounds better in my head. Sorry if it’s confusing.

    • TC Avey,

      What a great technique and important aspect of communication/listening. I have taken some counseling classes and this is one of the things I learned while taking them. Saying something like, “What I hear you saying…” or “Did I understand you clearly when you said…” are some things a leader can and should through into the conversation to make sure you know what the other person is saying and meaning.

      Thanks for adding some great insights to the post.

      • No problem. It’s worked great for me on many occasions. I learned to do it in nursing school and it really paid off when caring for psych patients.

        • I have also seen the benefits of applying this technique. I work with foster kids and it really helps me.

          • I bet it does! It’s really great that you work kids- they need Godly love so much. My heart goes out to those kids. Our extended family has adopted a few times. We are praying about someday doing it as well.

  • It’s very important Dan. As a leader, we get stuck in our own bubbles and forget what is going on “out there.” We can get away from the frontlines and miss what is going on.

    • Joe,

      Very true, it’s so important for leaders and managers to connect with their people. Taking the time to walk around the front lines to talk and listen to your people should be done regularly. Thanks you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • “When a leader applies the skill of listening, the person or people start feeling listen to and understood. This causes them to begin to share their ideas and thoughts, and feel cared for as well as valued.”

    wow, what powerful statements!

    Leaders speak for various reasons and one of them is to get the team involved and on one page. what a way to do it.

    A big rhema word for me today

    thanks for this reminder.

    • Ngina,

      Glad you enjoyed the post and topic. Its a much needed topic for anyone to remember.

  • Listening is getting to be a lost art and much needed. The company I contract for doesn’t listen at all to their independent contractors and they know it. I believe by not listening they aren’t getting the most from their workforce, ultimately affecting their bottom line.

    • Great post Dan

    • Kimanzi,

      I can’t believe they know they don’t listen and still are not doing anything about changing that. I wonder if they can see the negative results that come from not listening. Thanks for sharing the example.

      • I think they are blinded by their pride and are deceived. We sell the best bread on the market, so it naturally sells, it would do better with a more dedicated workforce!

        • Kimanzi,

          Pride has it’s way of blinding people. It must be hard not having a more dedicated workforce but at least you have a great product.

          If you ever expand into San Diego or California, let me know.

  • As I read this, I can’t help but think of Proverbs 21:23. “He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Also, Proverbs 29:11. “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

    Proverbs alone could serve as a policy and procedures handbook!

    • Scott,

      What a great passage and so applicable for this topic. Talking less definitely allows you to guard what we say.

      So true about the book of Proverbs acting as a handbook. I have learned so much from reading Proverbs, each time I read through the book I gain even more nuggets of wisdom.

      Thank you for reading and adding the discussion.

  • Oh yes! Listening is key. The only thing I would add is that it is important to observe while you listen. A person’s language, whether it is verbal or in the body or in the facial expressions is important. Sometimes people say more with their faces than they do with their words.

    • Susan,

      Great addition. Observing while listening or talking is key. We need to not only hear what they are saying but also read their body language as well. Its great to hear from you.

  • I believe it is very important for leaders to listen more, so that when he does speak, it will be more powerful because he had listened and understood what should be done. One way to improve our listening skills is to be selfless. To take a step back and regard the person we’re in a conversation with higher than ourselves. Make their thoughts more important than ours. That way, we can learn from each other because learning and teaching is a 2-way process.

    • Jamie,

      Great point about the power in speaking after listening and hearing.

      Being selfless is such an important aspect when it comes to talking with others. At times this means not talking even though we want to interject and say something.

      Thank you for your sharing these insights.

  • Brian Dodd

    Dan, wonderful post! I think so often leaders are moving so fast that connecting with others simply must be an intentional task. Thanks for the reminder! Brian

    • Brian,

      Good point about it needing to be “an intentional task.” I totally agree. Its an honor for you to read and comment on my blog, thank you.

  • Thank you for the information that article gave me. It’s really impressive. I will remember and share with the people around me about this.

    • Glad you liked the post. Thank you for reading and commenting.