Become a better leader by improving your listening

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We can all become better listeners, even if we are not leaders. But particularly in a leader, one of the most important traits is to be a good listener. In this article, you get some concrete advice on what you should do more or less of, to become a better listener. 

This is what you should do more of, to become a better listener

  1. Be genuinely ‘curious’ during a conversation. If the objective is to understand what someone really says or means, it normally turns out well.
  2. Observe people who you consider as good listeners. Who in your environment do you think is a good listener? Observe how this person is and behaves. Copy the behaviors you think are good, and that you would like to do more of yourself.
  3. Be in a good mood. With a positive mindset, you listen better than when you are grumpy and negative. If you feel negative, it is easier to misinterpret the message. 
  4. Stop everything else you do. Be present with the person you are talking to, and focus your thoughts on the ongoing conversation.
  5. Think about your body language. You communicate with your whole body. Turn towards the person you are listening to and look them in the eyes, have an open body language. You can read more about body language and its importance here (in Swedish).   
  6. Listen with nods and smiles. Give short confirmations with your body language and small phrases while the other person talks. Confirm what you hear, so the recipient knows that they have got your attention.

This is what you should do less of, to become a better listener

  • Interrupting others. We have all experienced being interrupted, and also interrupted others ourselves. Sometimes we interrupt because we are so engaged in different discussions, and to really get our voices heard before the subject is changed. But try to stay calm and wait for the other person to finish.
  • Being distracted by something else during the conversation. The phone, the clock, emails etc are continuously seeking your attention, and it is so easy to peek at something else turning up in the middle of a conversation. But when you are talking to someone else, it is important to focus on just that. Give the person you are talking to 100% of your attention.
  • Trying to steer the result of the conversation to your advantage. If the purpose of a conversation is for yourself to gain advantages of something, this often shines through. Try having as a purpose that the result of a conversation should feel OK for everyone who participates. It can be difficult conversations or negotiations, but sometimes you simply have to accept that you have different opinions, without trying to convince the other party to agree with your own point.

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