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One rule to rule all: listen hear

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You’ve been promoted to do as I say

Rules to govern, rules to guide, rules to control, rules to abide.  Yes, as long as people maintain ability to interpret rules, we need guidance and mediation to organize.

Guidance is not control.

Mediation is not fiat.

In the rule-maker attempt to control change with rules, they find constant challenge by constant change.

To manage a person or team towards the ruler’s direction of right means managing against the constant buffeting winds of change:

  • Technology,
  • Industry,
  • Competency,
  • Liability,
  • Product,
  • Service

Adaptability is not a strong suit for a control freak.

Those charged with an insanity defense to control change reveal managers promoted by managers who only promote those who they have in total control.

Management Skills, What Say Ye?

Many managers take control with the belief their technical expertise in their field is more important for their management role than management challenges of finite resources:

  • People,
  • Time, and
  • Budget

Any technical ability the manager had, as an individual contributor to meet their functional skill, is not as important as the ability to listen, to motivate, to teach, to learn.

To promote the contrary is to promote insanity and a mismanagement signal to your entire organization.

What becomes valuable starts as list of 12 valuable listening skills:

  1. Pay full attention
    • Whenever you are listening to anyone (team members, customers and clients, friends and family — anyone!), it’s vital to always pay full attention to them. This builds rapport, makes them feel valued in whatever role they have in your life, whilst creating trust along the way. So, put down what you are doing, face them and show them that you are listening.
  2. Ask another question
    • When you listen and hear fully what others say to you, you can then ask more about what they’ve just told you. This helps you find out more, it helps them feel heard and to appreciate that what they have said is valuable enough for you to want to know more.
  3. Seek clarification if you aren’t sure
    • If you aren’t sure what someone means when they are talking to you, simply ask for clarification. Even by truly listening, you will not always “get” what you hear, so it’s far better to ask to give them the chance to explain better, which helps their processing and understanding too.
  4. Make eye contact with them
    • Good listening starts with making — and maintaining — eye contact with whoever is speaking. When you look at people as they speak, you are building a relationship, quickly creating the rapport you need to make the most of the interaction. Eye to eye contact can sometimes be too intense for some people, so eye to mouth works perfectly!
  5. Summarize what you hear
    • Summarizing what you hear when someone else is talking to you, shows that you are listening (“So, what you are saying is…”). It also gives them the opportunity to reconsider and, if necessary, rephrase to get their point across.
  6. Avoid being disturbed
    • While you can be great at listening, if you don’t get the respect of the individual speaking, much can be lost in the interaction. It’s important to make sure that you create an environment where you can’t be disturbed. By creating clear boundaries about when you can be disturbed, you will mostly be freed when others need you to focus on them.
  7. Say less and make it about them
    • The mantra is “Two ears, one mouth. Use them in that proportion.” Listening is about that, listening. If you are so full of what you want to say, there’s not much room for the skills you need to listen effectively. By focusing fully on the other person and what they are saying, you will be a much better listener. Say less.
  8. Follow through with what you say you will
    • Although it might not sound like it’s a listening skill, this is. By ensuring that you hear properly and reflect on when action is expected of you, you will show you are a good listener and build trust and respect for being so. Do what you say you will when you’ve been in conversation with someone (well, all the time actually), is a good habit.
  9. Body language counts
    • A smile. A frown. Even a wriggle of discomfort. They mean so much when you are listening to others (as, of course, what you see on their face means to you). By being expressive in alignment with what you are thinking as you hear what they say, your expressions show you are listening closely. Be the reflection of what they say, because it encourages their thinking to progress too.
  10. Switch stuff off and focus
    • In the ever busier world we inhabit, there seems to be less and less time to get things done. So it can be hard to switch off and make sure we listen closely when others are with us. It is made easier by turning computer screens and phones off so they don’t get in the way of conversations. And when on the phone — well, this is often more of a challenge, so it’s vital to be even more careful then.
  11. Say it again for effect
    • Sometimes when we listen, we can get confused by what’s being said and the message is unclear. After all, what people say is passed through their outgoing filter and in through our incoming one. It’s hardly surprising that confusion arises. So it’s a good listening step to ask them to say it again; to rephrase; to put it into one sentence maybe. It show you are listening; that you care enough to ask for clarity and ultimately, this builds even stronger bonds between you.
  12. Prepare for action
    • Create relationships to build trust, in advance of when it’s critical. By informally building rapport all the time, when you really need their collaboration, both sides will listen better when there is a good foundation at you foster by making the effort.
    • Listening is an easy skill to acquire. When you set out with the mindset to 100% commit to what others are saying and focus on them, it will bring rewards to your leadership that you can use to everyone’s advantage in the results you achieve more effectively — and much more easily.

Curious thing about the above examples are the qualities needed to listen represent the qualities of good manager competency.

We too often fail to promote for listening skills or an ability to motivate.  More comfortable are those promoted who come from a need for one ring to rule them all.

Scared of Management Rule

In your work engagement the only way to move from scare to hear, from snare to prepare, from dare to care is an observable desire to listen.  Without empathy to listen there is no way to show a capability, capacity, or competency to hear.

Consultants are like doctors, they may tell you something you do not like to hear, but that you may know you need to hear:

  • You need to eat less fatty foods,
  • You need to exercise more,
  • You need to stop smoking,
  • You need to sleep more,

All health advice any rational person would heed.  People hear rational, but listen more closely to the emotional.  The rational is to listen to change, the logic to change means you start doing something different.  To change something means you change something.

Hear more.

Rule less.

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