Few consider listening to be a critical leadership skill, much less, one of the most critical skills for life and relationships. Curiosity will help!
When leadership is aligned primarily with persuasion and charisma, you won't hear anything about the most underrated leadership skill - listening!
And, most people have trouble listening. Why is listening so important? Because without it, you have much less opportunity to see inside another person's mind. And, when you combine asking questions – the most powerful leadership skill – you have an unbeatable combination to understand people and situations better.
Curiosity Makes A Big Difference
While it isn't a math formula, there is a realistic formula for listening. And, curiosity is one of the 3 parts of the formula. It is the leverage point to help you move from defensiveness, "making everything about ME", to openness and learning.
Look at the chart below and notice the yellow highlighted portion in the middle. It says, "Choose curiosity about the other person's perspective." That is the tipping point to move away from defensiveness, because it helps you move away from thinking only about yourself.
Curiosity helps you change your behavior rather than defend it.
Try it and see what difference it makes for you when you feel your defensiveness increasing.
Curiosity Is the Spark
It is easy to assume that listening just happens, because you can equate listening with hearing. Sounds enter the ear naturally, even without your choice. That makes it easy to think that listening doesn't require skill and development like speaking with clarity and persuasion.
Of course, that is why most people value speaking more than listening. Both are extremely important for leaders, but you will seldom see listening raised to the level of importance that the we do.
And, listening does not need to have sound involved. How does that happen? You "listen" to your conscience, at least I hope you do. You listen to what you are reading, even when you aren't speaking a word. You listen to your thoughts and assess your feelings!
That is why solitude, quietness, or meditating is so important. When you take the time to listen to what is going on inside of you, it can help you remove the bad and emphasize the good.
Curiosity Is the Spark - Humility Is the KEY
It may help you, like it did me, to consider listening as a formula.
The 3-part formula is shown in the video picture above. Curiosity may be the critical element of the formula for some people. I believe that Humility is the essential element, but if you are willing to be curious about the other person, that can be an entry point to listening.
If you have read other GR8 Leaders' blogs, you know how much we focus on values. In spite of listing only Humility in the formula, listening does require all of the values.
You demonstrate self-governance when you listen, need humility to listen, often make a sacrifice of time and energy to listen, limit your freedom to speak and accept the reality that others are free to speak, value others enough to listen, and benefit the most when listening to and sharing truth and reality.
So, here is how we see the formula.
Try It and See What You Learn
Find something that tells you to start using that formula. For me and many people, it is eye contact – deciding to look directly at someone is my signal to listen.
When a conversation is more than just “small talk”, I purposely make good eye contact with them which reminds me that this conversation is not about me (Humility). It reminds me it is time to focus on what they say and be curious about what they are thinking. That helps me not only listen, but also ask better questions.
Spend some time thinking about the formula for listening, then start the discipline of listening like a GR8 Leader.