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Written by Tuomas Haapsaari
on October 12, 2015

A good leader is a good listener

The feeling of being appreciated and loved leads to an everlasting change in the human body. Every one of us wants to be loved. Without being loved we want to feel appreciated. In lack of appreciation we seek to be appreciated through fear. And if our attempts of getting ourselves feared fails? We aim to get ourselves hated.

That is when we have reached rock bottom.

"Listening is appreciating others, and is the best way to build trust."

We all have the need to be recognized in some way. The easiest way to recognize someone is by listening to them and accepting them the way they are. A good listener is able to see the world through the eyes of others. Listening helps us to understand different kinds of opinions and see the big picture. This also helps us in leading people with different personalities and strengths towards a common goal.

As a leader, you want to let your coworkers know that they are appreciated and loved - doing that plays a key role in helping them reach their maximums. Listening plays a huge role in this game.

7 steps to become a good listener

  1. Forget your ego.

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We have a tendency to talk about ourselves, but try to tone that down and give your colleague a chance to tell about themselves the next time you talk. Try that, and you will see the joy in their eyes! Let them speak about the things they care about and the things that worry them. This is a chance to know them better and establish a meaningful bond with them.

  1. You can learn something from every encounter.

When you realize that every person you meet has the potential to teach you something new, you automatically strive towards listening to them in a more careful manner. Every person you meet knows something you don’t. It’s amazing to realize how much there is to learn by simply listening to other people!

  1. Listen to understand. Not to reply.

We often listen to reply, it’s in our nature. When you work on a perfect comeback in your mind as someone is talking to you, it shows - and it doesn't look good.

  1. Ask follow-up questions.

Try to get even deeper understanding by asking follow-up questions. Usually after two follow-up questions you are really close to the core of the point someone is trying to make.

  1. Give others enough time to speak - don’t interrupt.

Try not to interrupt the person you are talking to. Let them speak at their own pace. Show them that you are interested and care about what they are telling you.

  1. Put your phone and other distractions away.

Focus, focus and focus. When you listen to someone, give them 100% of your concentration. By holding a phone in your hand - or worse, constantly looking at it - you are not giving all your focus to the person you’re listening to and give the impression that you have no interest in them.

  1. Sympathize

Show that you care. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I have ever gotten. The next time you speak to someone, focus on showing that you really care about what they are saying. Nothing cheers people up more than realizing that they have a genuinely interested audience.

It is truly wonderful to meet a listener that is good. The first time I met the CEO of one of our clients, he really impressed me with his unbelievably great listening skills. He never interrupted me, he gave me enough time and space to talk, he was interested in what I was telling him, he asked a lot of follow-up questions and really made me feel that the most important thing for him at the moment was to get to get a deep understanding of what I was telling him. He made me feel important and appreciated. I will never forget that meeting.

Since then, I never wondered what made him such a great leader of a big company - he was leading by listening.

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