Do you want to become a better listener? If so, start with these seven listening roadblocks. Generally, five roadblocks are easier to see and correct, but that may not be true of you. It depends on your values and how you have developed so far in your life.
On the other hand, the last two roadblocks can be challenging to see, much less remove. So, how many of these seven listening roadblocks prevent you from listening? You can watch yourself in your next conversation to see which ones show up.
Listening seldom occurs when...
You Are Angry
When was the last time you listened to a person when you were angry at them? The only "listening" that happens is searching for ways to use their words against them. Anger focuses your mind away from helping someone, and listening is about helping.
You Want to Punish Rather Than Help
If you focus on revenge or punishment, you have already made up your mind about them. That means you don't want or need more facts because you, as the jury and judge, have already declared the verdict. No need to listen to them because you believe they need to listen to you and right now!
You're Not Willing to Remove Your Opinions
When you have an opinion, it is an assumption, estimate, conjecture, or theory about them and their actions. If you place your opinion at the same level as facts, then you will not listen. You believe you already know what is needed, and you don't see any need to listen.
You Feel a Need to Give Direct Advice
One of the biggest deterrents to listening is your need to talk. It is worse the more that you know. You tend to believe that you are the "guru" and will typically feel the need to provide the answers to the world. They need to be listening to you, not vice-versa.
In fact, of the seven listening roadblocks, this one happens too often. Why? Because most of us believe we know more than we actually know. Keep this great phrase from Robert Fritz in mind - "You know what you know, and you don't know what you don't know."
You Are in a Hurry and Don't Care to Explore What They Are Saying
Listening takes time, and it most often takes energy also. If you don't accept the need for both, you won't be listening, and this remains one of the seven listening roadblocks. One of the best ways to help you listen is to decide to be available to those you lead. Think about it, if you pre-decide right now that you want to be available, you will remove most of these roadblocks.
You Are Not Willing to Serve
Remember the formula for listening? Well, here it is - Humility + Focus + Curiosity = Listening. As you can see, humility is a critical component. And, if you remember, serving is one of the most practical ways to assess if you are moving toward humility. Listening is truly a giving of time and energy to another person. It is often sacrificial. Humility and serving will help you remove this one from the seven listening roadblocks.
You Are Making Everything About "ME"
Now the most significant reason listening does not happen. It is directly related to humility. You will need to make the situation about them, not you. Now that is very hard for most of us because it is instinctive to want your needs met first. This is why listening is difficult for most of us.
If you want to be an effective leader, listening is a critical skill. You can do it, but will you take the time and energy? It's your choice.