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The Importance of Listening to Understand

The Importance of Listening to Understand

We too often begin formulating a response while another person is still talking. Especially when we disagree with what they’re saying.

 

Listening to Understand

We too often begin formulating a response while another person is still talking. Especially when we disagree with what they’re saying.

 

Instead of listening with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.

 

When we know we’re right, we want the other person to see it our way. We’re compelled to persuade. To make a strong case wrapped in ethos, pathos, and logos. But we’re more likely to reach a better outcome—even agreement—if we listen more. And better.

 

Researchers at Hebrew University found leaders who listened well were better at effecting change and improving performance. Listening well means listening with the intent to understand—and that takes practice.

 

It means not multi-tasking. It means making eye contact and putting away our phones. It means not interrupting. It can even mean not responding verbally when the speaker stops talking.

 

Waiting.

…10, 20, even 30 seconds.

 

This can be where we learn the really good stuff. When good listeners do speak, they often ask a question. One of the best is, “What else?”

 

When good listeners have an idea or solution, they frame it as a question, “I wonder what will happen if you choose to do X?”

 

If we want healthier relationships, better outcomes, and higher performance on our teams, we should listen more.

 

With the intent to understand.

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