What is active listening? It means you are listening in an engaged and positive way withholding any judgement and advice. This is valid both for listening to yourself and to others.
Being an active listener requires some practice. Not only we show a tendency to talk more than we listen, but most of the times we listen to respond. We listen to counter-argue; we listen to justify ourselves.
In a world where technology spreads information at light speed, more than ever we feel the urge to share our opinions and compare our viewpoints with those from others. And that’s only human! Though in the midst of all that knowledge-sharing abundance, aren’t we forgetting to connect to ourselves and to others from a more deep and authentic place? Have we forgotten how to listen to our inner voice? Have we lost the ability to listen to others? Do we no longer recognize the meaning of listening?
Taking an inside look at the corporate world, I have been witnessing a certain crisis in leadership. I see many individuals rising to leadership positions without any people’s skills.
Do not get me wrong: One does not have to be born with that gift. It can be taught, developed, practiced. However, there has to be self-awareness, curiosity, openness, compassion. The same applies to your connections, your network. You want to expand and strengthen your professional network, to inspire others and lead them to change and growth.
This is where I believe active listening can play a predominant role. Yes, learning how to listen to yourself and to others can make the difference. Let me tell you how.
1) Practicing active listening with yourself translates into:
- Building self-awareness about your own thoughts, emotions, behaviors, attitudes
- Discovering your triggers, your strengths, your values
- Empowering decision-making by taking responsibility for your actions
- Improving performance in the different areas of your life
- Developing a better living by prioritizing your needs and goals
2) Practicing active listening with others unfolds into:
- Learning to deal with others’ thoughts, emotions, behaviors, attitudes
- Recognizing other people’s triggers and value their values and strengths
- Accepting others’ decisions even when you do not agree with them
- Challenging healthy competition to lead others to achieve high performance
- Acknowledging other people’s priorities and needs
Now, being a leader – to yourself and/or to others – I encourage you to read the wording above once more. Let it sink in and see which of those points resonates the most with you. If it makes sense, write them down.
Next time you are talking to a colleague, a team member, an employee, a potential client, remember to turn on your active listener.
People crave to be listened to, now more than ever. I bet you want to be listened to as well. You do not have to understand them, fix them, give them the answers. You can start by listening to them with an open mind and heart. Before you even realize, the bond has grown deeper; the connection became stronger. People are now open to listen to you, let be led by you, inspired by you, change and grow alongside you.