How to Cultivate Engaged Employees – 2nd in a series of 6 related Posts
If a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
Guideline #2 – Listen Seriously – And Show It
Author Vlachoutsicos believes managers are getting better at listening to employees but “their teams don’t always see it, or even recognize that it matters.” And like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, if it no one hears does it make a sound?
I believe we need to be intentional about letting others know we’re listening and sincerely considering what they have to say. (Chaper 63 of my book Building a Winning Business is called “Leaders Listen.”) One simple way I do this is to make a point of hitting the Do Not Disturb button when I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone in my office. About half the time, the “live” person will tell me to go ahead and take the call. Unless I’m expecting a life or death call, I still send the caller to voice mail. I want the person who took the time to come to my office to talk with me to know he or she has my undivided attention.
It’s also helpful to write down things people tell you as they are speaking. This communicates to them that you are, indeed, listening and that you consider what they’re saying to be important enough to write down and remember!
I’ve also learned a little tip from talking with a counselor when communicating with my wife: paraphrase what you think you’re hearing the other person say. You might discover something amazing, such as you didn’t really understand what the other person was trying to communicate at all! This simple little technique can save everyone a lot of confusion, hurt feelings or anger. . . plus it greatly improves your odds of actually understanding what another is saying.
One of my mentors, Performark founder and retired chief executive officer Joe Lethert shared the best advice he ever received with me. It was, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” That advice has served me well over the years, keeping me from jumping to hasty conclusions or rushing to solve a problem for which someone else already has found a creative solution.