Leadership Toolbox: The Listening Conversation©

Brian Evans

“Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader.”~ Sir Richard Branson, CEO Virgin 

I’m frequently asked, “what is the most important skill that I can develop to lead my organization?” While I encourage a complimentary suite of leadership skills, one of the most important is active listening.

The difficulty in most conversations is that a gap occurs when people don’t understand, or don’t agree with the person with whom they are in conversation. When this gap occurs, many stop listening and focus on their reasons for disagreement. They make a value judgment about the other person (’I don’t like them’), begin to create counter-arguments, or emotionally check out of the conversation. None of these reactions make you a better leader.

So, how can you strengthen your listening (and leadership) skills? Sit in the Listening Conversation©.

The Listening Conversation©

Many leaders mistakenly believe that listening is one-dimensional—speaking and responding. Instead, listening is multi-dimensional.

The effective leader embraces the Listening Conversation©, which contains four distinct elements:
(1) What’s spoken
(2) What’s heard
(3) What’s communicated (non-verbal; body language; somatic clues)
(4) What’s perceived (filtered by opinions, biases, judgments and life experiences)

In the Listening Conversation©, you are open to hearing the other person’s true intentions, thoughts, and concerns, and you respond in kind, so that they walk away feeling heard. By doing so, you build bridges instead of burning bridges.

And, if both parties still disagree, you have communicated in a way that allows the other to leave with a feeling of your willingness, not your againstness—even if you have not changed your position at all.

Your ability to effectively lead, collaborate, and diminish internal stressful reactions will increase the more that you can sit in your Listening Conversations© without judgment. The result will be more productive, empowered and satisfied team members who feel heard and valued, and greater organizational effectiveness under your leadership.

Click here to Assess Your Listening Skills:

Click here for more information on the Listening Conversation© and strategic practices to strengthen your listening (and leadership) skills: