Listening Skills: Road to the Executive Suite

I’m
intrigued by how often executives admit to poor listening skills, but
add listening to their toolkit as they go up the leader.  Case in point
is an interview in today’s Times
of Teresa Taylor, COO of Qwest.  She says, “over the years, something I
really had to learn was hot to truly listen.  Sometimes people act like
they’re listening, but they’re really formulating their own thoughts in
their head.”

Indeed, Taylor goes on to say that she ignored listening for the
early part of her career, but realized that as responsibilities grew,
she had to get things done through influencing individuals.  Listening
is key to influencing.

But becoming an effective listener is not a matter of trying
harder.  At bottom, listening is all about asking questions.  What’s
that person saying?  What does he/she mean by that? How does that
connect with what’s been said thus far?  What are the implications of
that?  As you’re listening with such questions in mind, inevitably you
will want to clarify with the other person by defining, paraphrasing,
summarizing or even asking important implications.  “So what you’ve
said is blah, blah, blah.  Based on that, what do you see as the next
two or three steps?”

Effective listening is a distinct package of learnable skills.  Check out my weblog on listening
to build a better repertoire of listening skills.  Ahd should you have
questions on listening that I haven’t covered in previous posts, don’t
hesitate to send me an email.  

 
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