Curiosity Is Critical and Helps You Listen!

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Few consider listening a critical leadership skill, much less one of the most essential 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!

Most people have trouble listening. Why is listening so important? Without it, you have much less of an opportunity to see inside another person's mind. And, when you combine asking questionsthe most powerful leadership skill – you have an unbeatable combination to understand people and situations better.

Curiosity Is Critical and Helps You Listen!

Curiosity Makes A Big Difference

While it isn't a math formula, there is a realistic formula for listening. Curiosity is one of the three 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 for moving away from defensiveness because it helps you move away from thinking only about yourself.

Curiosity helps you change your behavior rather than defend it.

Defensiveness or Learning?

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 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 we place on it.

Listening does not need to involve sound. How does that happen? Do you "listen" to your conscience? I hope you do. Can you listen to what you are reading, even when you aren't speaking a word? Do you listen to your thoughts and assess your feelings?

That is why solitude, quietness, or meditation 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. For some people, curiosity may be the critical element. I believe 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. Despite listing only Humility in the formula, listening impacts or is impacted by all 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.

  • Humility is the KEY – “Will I make this about them, not ME?”
  • Focus is the FUEL – “Will I pay attention to them?”
  • Curiosity is the SPARK – “Will I be curious about how they think?”
  • Listening is the RESULT – “Do I see what they see?”

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 that 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.


critical leadership skill, listening, listening formula

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