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One of the most effective communication tools
February 06, 2018
Very simple - yet powerful - communication tool
Last month I asked you to do a bit of self-reflection – and the specific question I invited you to answer was …
“IF you have direct reports – whether you are a first time supervisor or a seasoned executive – what will you do differently this New Year (2018) to grow as a world-class boss?”
Your answers were as diverse as your particular circumstances.
First: I want to thank you for taking the time to think about it, write your answer and email it back to me.
Second: I apologize if I didn’t personally respond to you. I did my best to write to as many of you as I was able to – but the truth is – I did not get back to all of you.
Sorry about that. Sincerely. I received over three thousand responses and – combined with my other work commitments – I just didn’t have enough time to answer to all of you.
I hope that – to those of you who I had the chance to reply to – you found my answers helpful and practical.
However – the purpose of this question was about helping you self-reflect on your strengths and areas of opportunity. The purpose of this question was not to receive an answer from me.
But again: My most sincere apologies.
This Month’s Tool:
Today I am going to show you a simple tool – yet extremely powerful – to help you improve the quality of your communication, the quality of your decision-making, and to dramatically reduce / extinguish misunderstandings.
But before I do – let me warn you:
Do NOT be fooled by your assumptions.
I beg you: Do not allow yourself to make judgments prematurely and without having adequate information.
The simplicity and unpretentiousness of this tool might lead you to believe that this is something you already know how to do.
But – unless you have been formally trained in this communication technique – it is extremely likely that you do NOT know how to use it.
Here is a similarity to help you see what I am talking about –
If you are able to see – it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to look.
To “see” is more general – to “look” is more specific.
When you look at something, you pay more attention than when you just see something.
If you are able to hear – it doesn’t automatically mean that you are able to listen.
You can hear something without necessarily listening to it.
In other words …
Seeing is to looking – as hearing is to listening.
Now – let’s move up a notch:
If you are able to look – it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to read.
The same is true for listening …
If you are able to listen – it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to listen actively.
What is “active listening”?
Active listening is a communication technique.
Conflict resolution mediators, executive coaches, psychotherapists, etc., were formally trained and they had to learn the skill of active listening.
Active listening is when you consciously give your undivided attention to the other person, in order to fully comprehend what s/he is trying to communicate to you.
I do not pretend to train you in active listening with this short article.
However – I do pretend to bring up to your attention the skill of active listening.
Active listening is more about practice than anything else.
There are several techniques that will help you improve your active listening skills – I am going to show you two of them (I will tell you about a third one next month).
First Active Listening Technique:
This technique is very simple.
All you need to do is to consciously DECIDE to give all of your attention to the person you are interacting with.
Simple – isn’t it?
Not easy – but simple.
All it takes is practice.
All you have to do is to remind yourself to give your absolute attention to this person in front of you – you stop whatever it is you are doing (everything), and all you do is to listen.
Once again: Simple – not easy, but simple.
Second Active Listening Technique:
This technique will take you a lot more practice to master it – but it’s definitely worth your effort.
This technique is one of the most powerful tools inside a professional coach’s toolkit – it’s called, “Silencing your Internal Dialogue”
You always have an unstoppable “internal dialogue” going on in your head – from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment you fall asleep at night.
Your internal dialogue never stops – ever – unless you make a mindful and diligent effort to silence it and to consciously stop it with the help from a specific technique.
This technique might come from the practice of meditation, from the field of coaching, etc.
I haven’t practiced enough meditation to my personal satisfaction yet (it’s still on my “To Do” list) – but I am a certified executive coach by the International Coaching Community, and I will pass on to you my most straightforward advice on this topic:
Always – while you listen to somebody (not listen actively) – you unconsciously do two things simultaneously:
1) You listen 2) You allow your internal dialogue to take place inside your head
While you are listening – not listening actively – your internal dialogue could be about your past experiences related to the current conversation, about your own logical reasoning, about what it is you are going to say next in this dialogue, etc.
But I repeat, this is not active listening.
Active listening is when you stop your internal dialogue completely and you just listen with a completely silent mind – without any internal dialogue at all, nothing, nil, nada.
When you “listen” – you do two things: 1) You listen AND 2) You allow your internal dialogue to run inside your head.
But when you “listen actively,” you only do one thing: You only listen – suspending / silencing / stopping your internal dialogue.
I know it’s not easy (tell me about it). But I also know that it’s well worth your effort.
Active listening helps you make better decisions, helps you help the person you are speaking with, helps you reduce misunderstandings, etc.
One of my jobs as part of the corporate leadership development work I do is “managerial communication”
I teach three-day communication seminars for Fortune 500 companies – and always participants enthusiastically express that one of the new behaviors they will start practicing is active listening.
It just takes practice – like any other skill in life.
Practice, practice, and practice some more …
To become a much better communicator – practice these two new habits:
1) Decide to give your full and undivided attention to the person you are speaking with.
2) Stop your internal dialogue while you are listening – and focus only on what the other person is telling you.
Reply to this Newsletter and tell me what you would like future issues to be about.
Feel free to re-send this "Leader Newsletter" to your colleagues.
Most recent 12 "Leader Newsletter" issues:
New Year & Your Direct Reports
See you next month!
Joseluis Romero - Publisher
February 6, 2018. Copyright: All rights reserved
I publish "Leader Newsletter" on the first Tuesday of every month
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