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Good Leaders are Good Listeners

“He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13).There’s a big difference between hearing and listening.Most of us simply talk too much. Somebody said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth. Therefore we should listen twice as much as we talk.”Probably the greatest reason people fail with leadership is not what we usually think it is. It is usually insensitivity to people.Poor listening causes mistakes, costs money, causes breakdown in relationships. It has all kinds of problems. It is easy for us as leaders to become so busy talking, so busy verbalizing, that we don’t have time to hear what we’re saying or hear anybody else.The truth is good leaders are good listeners. There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the vibrations that take place that go into your ear. Listening is how you decode those things in your brain. There have been many times I have listened or I have heard my wife or heard my kids, heard a teacher speak or heard somebody share, but I haven’t listened. Listening is a skill.It is a skill that has to be developed.It’s developed through practice, desire, attention – by wanting to become a good listener. If you’re going to make it as a leader, if you’re going to make it in leading people effectively, you’ve got to learn to be a listener because, as I said, the number one reason people fail in leading people is their insensitivity to people.So how good of a listener are you?RATE YOURSELF AS A LISTENERI feel listening is a very important way to lead another person.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyOthers would say I’m “slow to speak and quick to listen."___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyWhen others are speaking, my mind wanders.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyI tend to interrupt others when they are speaking.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyWhen I disagree with someone or hear a “red flag” word, I tend to tune them out.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyI change subjects without first responding to what the other person has said first.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyI am aware of a person’s non-verbal behavior (gestures, facial expressions, etc.) to gain betterunderstanding.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyI do most of the talking in conversations.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyI maintain eye contact when listening to others.___ Never _____ Sometimes _____ UsuallyKeys to becoming an effective listener:Make and Maintain Eye contact with speaker. Refuse to be distracted by the other things around you. ( People, Phone, Computer etc.) Give your undivided attention.Never assume you know what the other person is saying. Don’t run ahead with your thoughts. Stay in the moment and hear everything being said. I have run ahead only later that I didn’t fully understand what the person really meant. One of the fastest way to lose influence is to accuse someone of something they didn’t mean.I have found it helpful to ask questions to clarify what the other person has said. I repeat in different words what I think they mean. Then I ask them, "Is that what you are saying?" If they say, "Well no, that's close, but that's not quite it," I say, "Well, we have plenty of time. Just what do you mean by that?" Then they will repeat what they are trying to tell me.Another key factor in being a good listener is to not overreact or take immediate action. Don’t evaluate until you’ve heard it all and comprehended it. Is this natural? No. When somebody is talking, the first time you hear something you disagree with, the temptation is to say, “Time out! Stop right there! Let’s deal with this.” And you never get any further. But you need to hear the person out.I believe that it is best to go through a whole conversation, then later on, after we have had time to think, take action with the agreement of the people involved. An immediate reaction can cause people to fear bringing up things in the future, cutting the lines of communication.In order to be a good listener, it is also important that we do not ridicule what people say. We may not understand what they are saying, but being critical or ridiculing a person lowers their sense of self worth and can cut off meaningful communicationListening is active, not passive. Active listening extends the Golden Rule to communication. The key to good listening is considering how you want others to listen to you and then practicing that with them. Golden Rule listening will improve the quality of your relationship with others in your home and on your job.

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