Article after article has shown that listening is an important characteristic of an effective leader. So, why is it difficult for some leaders?
Often, leaders tend to direct and take command of conversions or talk too much. Due to their busy schedules, leaders also do not take the time to listen to others.
We need to use all tools available to us to improve how we listen to other Team Members. Two ways to do this are through the use of DISC and empathetic listening.
Develop effective listening skills using DISC
Step one: Learn to recognise your own DISC Style and how you prefer to communicate and listen.
Step two: Learn how to recognise others DISC Styles. There is a good chance, your Team Members will not have the same DISC Style as you, and therefore will not communicate in the same way.
The styles have preferred ways in which they are more comfortable when interacting with others. Some DISC profiles share similarities and some are very different.
D-Styles listen to short explanations; want to know how it will benefit them; and can become impatient if the conversion is dragging on.
I-Styles listen to others; they like to participate in discussion as a way of socialising, like D-Styles they don’t like to listen for too long.
S-Styles are generally good listeners; they can see things from many points of view and can therefore offer help. However, even if they disagree with what is being said their non-verbal communication will show the opposite.
C-Styles are very eager to learn if they are interested in a conversation, they have difficulty listening if a conversion is not presented logically and often look for errors.
Step three: modify your own DISC style to communicate more effectively with others. Once you have made these adjustments to your listening style, you can better engage others. Your team members will be more interested in what you are saying, and you will most likely achieve a better outcome.
DISC is not about changing who you are; consider making small adjustments in key moments in your interactions with others. This may be as simple as taking the time to have an in-depth conversation, being brief with your interactions or allowing for questions. The end result will benefit both you as a leader and maximize the exchange of ideas and information.
Develop effective listening skills using Empathetic Listening Techniques
Research also shows that active listening combined with empathy is one of the most effective forms of listening. Active and empathetic listening involves using non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, i.e. nodding of the head, to display attentiveness.
Effective empathetic listening also involves verbal cues such as summarising a conversation or asking for clarification, to demonstrate understanding. Sample phrases include: “I would like to hear more about your perspective” or “here are a couple of key points that I heard from this meeting.”
Peter Nulty an author of the National Business Hall of Fame suggests that listening is the most valuable Leadership Skills and of the least understood. "Most captains of the industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That's how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities."
Ultimately, engaging with others in a way that suits their behavioural style, taking the time to listen and respond, rather than endlessly debating, are the keys to effective listening skills.