Are you listening?  As you go through your day, actively focusing on getting through your objectives, do you ever think your focused actions may be getting in the way of receiving key information necessary for your successful decision making?
Are you really hearing what others are saying, and seeing through their ‘lenses’?  Appreciating others perspectives, in addition to your own, is an important character of a respected leader.  This hugely impacts team collaboration and the development of new ideas.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter F. Drucker

Time is such a precious commodity.  We have deadlines which we need to meet, in the most efficient manner possible.  This efficiency may be causing you to sideline key contributions from your team.  Most of us will say that we follow due process to ensure all views are taken on board before we move to decision making.  However, taking into account time pressures, it is human nature to take the route most familiar to us.  This can cause us to make predetermined decisions and on occasion miss out on opportunities.

To ensure we are attentive, yet not distracted by additional information, there are three ways we can ensure we are ‘listening between the lines’ and not missing out on key insights and information.  The next time you are pressured for time, it may be worth considering these next three points.  The time lost will be gained on insight received from different perspectives and team collaboration as a result of making the team part of the decision making process.  On some occasions it may not change your decision, however, it has allowed you to gain insight from your team as they bring forward their experience and feel their contribution is valued.  This will surely promote increased quality contributions from your team.

  • Put your agenda to one side

Active listening allows you to really hear what the other person is saying without being distracted by other thoughts.  This requires you to make eye contact with the individual speaking and holding your posture in a way that shows the other person you have a genuine interest in what they are saying.  This also supports you to avoid distractions, and facilitate an environment where the individual will be open and honest.

  • Listen through the eyes of the messenger

Another important element is to put oneself in ‘the other person’s shoes’.  Try to go into their world and hear what they are telling you through their lens and perspective.  Having empathy, and allowing yourself to think with the other person, from their perspective.  This will support a meaningful conversation and trust in the individuals involved.

  • Confirm your understanding

Be open to understand how this new information could support your decision making.  Understand the pro’s and con’s, and weigh up the positive impact of this additional information.  This can be achieved through reflective listening.  Repeating and paraphrasing what you have heard, to confirm you have understood.  Reframing can also support you when the information being received needs to be converted into a positive forward looking statement, in order to progress in a successful manner.

In summary

‘Listening between the lines’ and taking in key insights and information from your team will not only support improved decision making, it will also support the development of a collaborative team, promoting creativity and innovation.  What Great Listeners Actually Do is “rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking”.

About the Author

Anne Caulfield is a qualified Executive Coach, accredited Emotional Intelligence coach, and certified Mediator.  Anne is the founder of ElevateEdge.  ElevateEdge’s mission is to elevate professional’s success potential, through leadership development, supported by Executive Coaching and Emotional intelligence coaching.   Anne is passionate about supporting professionals to develop and be the best version of themselves.  Developing individual’s self-awareness of behaviour patterns and leadership style, and transforming this behavior into innovative leadership and improved decision making.  Through experience and expertise, Anne promotes creativity and innovation in professionals to reinvent and maintain their edge in business.