Curing the listening flu


This post was inspired by Wally Bock who recently wrote a great post called Listen like you mean it. I think you should read it.


Being able to listen deeply is foundational to everything else you do as a leader.

When you listen deeply (as you must), you don’t just hear the words others are saying, you LIVE them in your head, your heart and your body. Deep listening takes you beyond the words that are spoken to the all-important understanding of another.

Your leadership depends on it. Your followers need it. You may fail without it.

The Listening Flu virus is the cause of non-listening and leaders are particularly vulnerable to catching it.

The virus is a trickster

The Listening Flu virus settles into your brain and convinces you that you’re the smartest and most interesting person around. It makes you think others want to hear you, you, and more of you. It causes you to believe that others are only jabbering nonsense, tricking you into being distracted by your thoughts as you judge what you hear and leap to conclusions instead of listening.

There are cures, but they must be administered by you throughout your lifetime. The healing begins when you understand that deep listening starts in your heart, not your brain. The cure goes deeper and is longer lasting when you learn to care about what others have to say.

Forget those expensive leadership development workshops. Open your ears and your heart wide and you’ll learn more about how to lead than you ever thought possible. Being listened to shows others that you care. When people see that you care, they put forth their best.

To get started on the cure:

Practice listening: When you are alone, close your eyes for a minute and just listen. You might hear a clock ticking or the hum of a furnace that you might not have heard while you were listening to all the silly stuff that nasty virus stirred up in your brain. Next, listen deeply to someone in front of you and take note of the new understanding you gain. Open your heart, shut off your chattering brain (and mouth) and notice what’s interesting about what the other person has to say. Ask some questions to learn more. Keep doing these things and you’ll notice the cure kicking in.

Find someone to listen to you: Have you noticed that when you talk to someone, they rarely ask questions to learn more? This weird discussion continues (fostered by the virus) where the other person talks and then you talk, both trying to be heard. Meanwhile, neither of you really listens the other. You get frustrated when you aren’t heard, trying harder and talking more and others stop listening. This only makes the virus flourish. Find a trusted counselor, mentor or coach to listen to you, and you can get it all out, say everything you need to say, leaving your brain empty and your heart open to listening to others because you’ve been heard.

Cure that nasty Listening Flu by practicing and finding a person who will listen to you. Open your ears and your heart wide. I guarantee you’ll notice a significant impact on your leadership.







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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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