Think about the last time you were at a networking event. Do you remember the one sitting back, listening to everyone else? That was probably the most successful person there. A pretty broad statement, of course, but the sentiment often rings true.
The most successful people tend to listen more than talk. As you all know, when a person feels heard, they will feel more valued, thus working harder and more proactively.
Entrepreneur contributor, Kara Goldin, writes 5 great tips on how to be a “better leader by listening.
- “Be the last to speak.” You can learn infinitely more by listening to those around you. Bosses with big egos will usually be the loudest one in the room, but a true leader will listen to their team before interjecting. If you speak first, you will definitely skew the conversation. People tend to automatically agree with their boss out of fear or out of respect. So if you start speaking at the beginning of the conversation, someone might not share their opinion for fear of disagreeing with the boss. Don’t let that become a habit! You should give your team the time and space to share their true opinion first.
- “Shut down outside distractions.” Don’t be rude and look at your phone while someone is talking to you. That goes with email and computer work as well, folks! And you know what, I’m the first to be guilty of this. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the work we’re doing, we multitask as someone tries to engage in conversation. Not only is this not fair to the person talking to you, but the work you’re doing will probably suffer as well. Be kind to your team by closing out distractions and giving them your undivided attention. Then- most importantly- really listen to what they have to say. There is nothing in your way, so you should be able to give them the attention they need in that moment.
- “Mind your body language.” A great communicator knows that body language is half the battle. If you are sitting with your arms closed and an impatient expression, the person dialoguing with you is likely to disengage. While you might not realize it, crossing your arms can come off quite defensive and like you’re not hearing/believing what the person is telling you. And let’s face it, no one wants to deal with that. As you listen to others, stay aware of your posture, facial expressions, and body language.
- “Pay attention to the unsaid.” Silence can speak volumes, am I right? As you get better at communicating, you’ll become more aware of what’s NOT said and the implications of that.
- “Make sure you hear quiet voices.” Everyone wants to feel heard. The quietest voices can often have the most innovative ideas. If you notice someone not speaking up during a meeting, directly engage with that person. Sometimes, asking their opinion will open up a lot of doors and lead to great ideas. Just remember that shy people can have amazing ideas too! They just might need that nudge to get there.
See? Communication isn’t so hard. Just a few simple tricks can help you go so far on your path to be a successful leader. Try it out and see!