Relational health and harmony is extremely important when working with teams. To create and maintain that quality on your team, one of the most important skills you can learn—and teach—is to listen well. If you can learn that, then you can model good listening skills for your team and help them use that skill with one another.
James, the brother of Jesus, gives us the golden rule of communication: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
- Quick to listen
- Slow to speak
- Slow to become angry
It’s stunning how much trouble we could keep ourselves out of by following these three simple rules. But simple is different than easy. Listening well is not easy. Here are some times to help you think through what is required to listen well:
- Take the time necessary to listen—it takes a long time
- Ask open-ended questions to draw out a person’s thoughts
- Don’t react too quickly, assuming you know what someone means—you may not
- Ask follow-up questions to clarify meaning
- When you’re listening, focus on the other person not on what you’re going to say next
- Don’t interrupt
- Before you respond, unpack the other person’s thinking fully so that you can verbalize to their satisfaction what they’re trying to say
Exercise: This week when you talk with a family member, friend, or co-worker, see how long you can go listening and asking questions before you start interjecting your thoughts or making statements.