Are You a Good Listener?

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Are You a Good Listener?

By Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa

An old Italian proverb says, “From listening comes wisdom, from speaking comes repentance.”  In today’s technological world, listening is not practiced as much as it should be.  However, a true servant leader will listen first because true listening builds strength in others.  As Robert Greenleaf said, “In saying what I have in mind, will I really improve the silence?”

Listening can be described as an attitude toward other people.  You may think that you are a good listener, but do the people around you agree or disagree?  Has anyone ever looked at you with a disappointed expression and said, “Are you listening to me?”   Let’s face it, being a good listener is not as easy as it sounds.  We’ve all drifted off into our own thoughts when we were supposed to be paying attention to what someone else was saying.  Maybe it is because the subject matter is boring or the person speaking is just not interesting.  Or, perhaps, we are distracted with our own personal issues.  Whatever it is, we all could use some tips on how to be better listeners.

If we can become better listeners, we will retain more information, spend less time trying to recall information, improve our quality of work, and strengthen our relationships.  It takes concentration and determination to be an active listener.  Old habits are hard to break, and if the listening habits you have developed over time are as many people’s are, then there’s a lot of habit breaking to do.  Be deliberate with your listening and remind yourself constantly that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying.

So, are you a good listener?  I think we can all use some tips to become a better listener, don’t you?  So, what do you say, let’s work on using active listening today to become a better communicator and improve your workplace productivity and relationships.  We all should be working to become a more servant leader in our homes and our workplaces.  The following five daily exercises will help you become a more effective listener as you travel down the road to becoming a more effect servant leader.

Lesson #1 – Pay Attention!

Listen more than you speak

Stay focused on what the other person is saying

Look at the speaker directly

Put aside distracting thoughts

Stop doing other things

Lesson #2 – Provide Feedback

Focus on using body language

Make eye contact

Uncross your arms

Nod occasionally

Turn your shoulders so that you are facing the speaker

Lesson #3 – Defer Judgment

Be open minded

Allow the speaker to finish

Don’t interrupt with counter-arguments

Validate the speaker

Share in the speaker’s emotions and feelings

Lesson #4 – Respond Appropriately

Resist the urge to dominate the conversation

Ask questions to clarify certain points

Be candid, open, and honest in your responses

Ask open ended questions to promote further discussions

Don’t say, “I told you so.” Or “I knew that.”

Lesson #5 – Exercise Your Mind

Realize that listening is hard work

Recognize your own biases

Develop an appetite for hearing a variety of presentations

Prepare to listen by having an open mind and a positive mental attitude

Research topics of concern in your household or industry

Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa is a mother, educator, and wife living in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  She is a PhD student with Our Lady of the Lake University in Leadership Studies.  Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the CEO of the Leadership Empowerment Group and is currently researching the relationship between the leadership of the high school principal and the high school drop out rate.  This article is an excerpt from the self published book, Are You A Ten?  The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader. For ordering information, please contact Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa at Barb313679@aol.com.