I have found if you want to become a better communicator it has little to do with speaking. This is because a significant aspect to becoming a better communicator comes with the skill of listening. The best leaders know the value of listening.
When Captain Michael Abrashoff became Commander of the U.S.S. Benfold, he realized this secret. In It’s Your Ship he wrote, “It did not take me long to realize that my young crew was smart, talented, and full of good ideas that frequently came to nothing because no one in charge had ever listened to them.” He understood the importance and benefits that would come if he started to listen to the people on the front lines. He says,
“I decided that my job was to listen aggressively and to pick up every good idea the crew had for improving the ship’s operation. Some traditionalists might consider this heresy, but it’s actually just common sense. After all, the people who do the nuts-and-bolts work on a ship constantly see things that officers don’t. It seemed to me only prudent for the caption to work hard at seeing the ship through the crew’s eyes.”
Because Caption Michael was willing to listen and apply the ideas from his crew the U.S.S. Benfold became recognized as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, winning several prestigious awards. This story shows the importance and benefits that come when a leader listens to their people. If you want to become a better leader and communicator then apply these listening skills into your life:
Share the conversation-
Leaders would benefit from listening more than talking, or at the very least have a balance between talking and listening. This requires being intentional about not steeling the conversation and by allowing the other person to talk. When someone feels like they will have the opportunity to talk they feel free to openly share and bring ideas to the table.
Having proper body language shows the person you are listening to them. This is an important aspect to listening because “80 percent of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not words.”~Deborah Bull This is why it’s essential to have proper facial expressions, posture, and eye contact when listening. Become aware what your body is speaking while you’re in a conversation and make necessary changes. When you do this it will show the other person you’re listening to what they are saying.
Show you hear-
A practical way to show you are listening and hearing the other person is to either summarize or repeat key points the person has said. Using words like,
What I hear you saying is…
Did I hear you correctly when you said, “key point?”
How does “key point” make you feel?
Saying words like this will help you clarify and understand what the person is saying and it will show you are listening.
Question: What are some other listening skill you have found helpful?