Peace Health Southwest Medical Center
Have you ever found yourself sitting at your desk, typing on the computer while trying to listen to someone telling you something? When this happens to me, I generally will agree with the person as I know they are speaking, but in actuality, their words did not register. I have no idea what I just agreed to as my brain was more focused on what I was typing.
I consider myself to be a good listener. I am quiet, do not interrupt and am not free to readily offer advice; yet, I have to admit there are times when I am not really hearing what people are saying.
To be an exceptional leader you need to be more than a “good listener”. You need to be an intentional listener. Listening with the purpose to be present and really hear what the other person is saying. Not just the words, but the meaning and emotions behind those words.
As a leader, if you want people to believe in you and respect you, you need to make the choice to be an intentional listener. It really is a conscientious choice you need to make. It is easy to hear people, but the art is in the listening. As a woman leader, I feel this is an even more important skill as we are often sought out for our listening ear.
Here are a few tips I try to follow to ensure I’m listening with intention:
- Keep my hands still and in my lap – it ensures I am not busy with something else.
- If am on the phone, I close my eyes – this limits distractions
- Focus on the verbal and non-verbal, paying attention to discrepancies between the two.
Find more tips on being an intentional listener, on the Center for Creative Leadership website.
We’ve all had those situations where we can choose to listen with intention: the co-worker who is upset, the customer who is not happy with a service, your children trying to debrief their day, your spouse when faced with a difficult decision. If you listen with intention, you may be surprised where the conversation takes you and what you can learn.
Jennifer Packer, RN, MSN, is Director of Emergency Services at PeaceHealth – Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, WA. She recently completed the annual Leadership Clark County program.