We tend to value speaking over the ability to listen — particularly in leadership positions. But when you listen carefully, you have the opportunity to gain new perspectives and learn the things you don’t know you don’t know.
Sometimes we are listening but not fully connecting. For example, we don’t notice nonverbal cues, like energy and body language.
We all know the feeling of internal listening, when we’re focused on our own thoughts, worries and priorities, and simply pretend to hear our conversation partner.
I think that an outstanding listener is not someone who is silent, but someone he asks questions that promote discovery and insight. I would even say good listening for me is a two-way dialogue, not a one-sided monologue.
I try to be that kind of listener who makes the conversation a positive experience for both parties. It is ok to give feedback but think about how you offer it, make it smoothly and positive, do not try to contradict of correct the other person constantly.
Active listing is an undervalued skill — and it’s more than just good manners. Focusing your full attention on the conversation can create a more pleasant, productive experience for everyone involved.
Also be aware of trying to find the correct rhythm in the conversation. For me, as an ex dancer probably, feeling the rhythm of a conversation is key. Trying to synchronise the people around the table as a moderator is an important skill.
Just like public speaking skills, listening is a skill that requires deliberate practice.
Listening, not talking, is the gifted and great role.
So that is why I challenge myself as an interviewer, a moderator, a public speaker but also as a partner, a friend, a mother to always look for those better questions, because to get the right answers it is essential to ask the right questions.