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My aim with this post is to throw out a little coaching challenge.
How much of your conversation is about talking and how much about listening?
We hear the message all the time in business and corporate life about the importance of "being a good listener". It makes it us better leaders, managers and team players. It also make us better marketers, because we need to get to know and understand our customers. It makes us better networkers, because we show others how much we genuinely care about them.
So, how would you rate your own listening skills? As a coach I get to practice it a lot and know that it can be hard to give it your total attention without any distraction. When you do though, your understanding and your relationship moves to a whole new level.
This message came across loud and clear this week when I was watching "Why I'm a listener" with Amgen CEO, Kevin Sharer. He talks about how he radically changed his listening approach after hearing Sam Palmisano (President and CEO of IBM from 2002 to 2011) speak.
'Someone asked him why his experience working in Japan was so important to his leadership development, and he said, "Because I learned to listen." And I thought, "That's pretty amazing." He also said, "I learned to listen by having only one objective: comprehension. I was only trying to understand what the person was trying to convey to me. I wasn't listening to critique or object or convince."
... So I shifted, by necessity, to try to become more relaxed in what I was doing and just to be more patient and open to new ideas. And as I started focusing on comprehension, I found that my bandwidth for listening increased in a very meaningful way.'
[You can watch the video here (2.46 minutes) great insight for us all, not just big business!]
So, my little challenge is that today, in whatever conversations you have, give this a go ... listen solely for comprehension at least 80% of the time ... and see what difference it makes.
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