I think “listening well” is an essential leadership skill.

We train leaders on what effective listening looks like, tactics which result in good listening and the importance of taking time to listen.

But, our CFO Casey Fletcher passes me a Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein this week; the article suggests that good listening often begins with “good talking”.

It’s a novel to take on listening.  Citing the guidance of counselor Traci Ruble, Bernstein says that “one who seeks to be listened to, can set up a better discussion by taking a few steps.”

  1. Don’t just launch in to a conversation, first, if you want to have an important conversation, ask the listener if they have time to engage.  And, don’t be offended if the answer is no.
  2.  Be clear about what you need.  Sometimes you want to vent.  Sometimes you want to make sure someone knows how you feel about something.  Sometimes you seek problem solving help.  What you want matters.  Make it clear up front.
  3.  Don’t ramble.  Respect the listeners time.  Get to the point and stay on point.
  4.  Pay attention to the listener and make sure your message is connecting.
  5.  Appreciate the listener.  When the listener knows she is appreciated, the door remains open for more.

Got to admit I haven’t considered these steps as often as I should.  I can see how adopting them could upgrade the quality of things.