The new session of the Emerging Leaders Academy got off to a great start this week–well, at least from my perspective! I hope that the participants felt the same.
While much of the first day consisted of getting-to-know-one-another activities and discussions of what we all expect of the program, we also did our first skills session. The topic on the agenda? Communication skills. Specifically, listening.
Many people have a great deal of awareness about the importance of communication skills to workplace success. But if asked about what these skills include, most would note speaking and writing, the abilities that allow us to clearly and effectively communicate our messages, goals, and priorities.
What is often neglected in our thinking about communication skills is the piece that’s necessary in order for us to create a message others want to or need to hear in the first place.
Are our ears and our intentions open to hear what people are saying around us so that we can truly discern how we can contribute best to the projects in our organizations? Are we attuned to what our customers and clients want from us to make sure the products we offer truly serve the needs they have? This is especially important for those of us in government where we don’t have competitors offering our products and where citizens can feel frustrated when they don’t feel we’re doing our best to understand and meet their needs.
Among the many habits that get in the way of our listening is the practice of interrupting. In a recent post on her I’m Listening New website, Jill Chivers reflects on two well-intentioned types of interrupting, correcting and cheer leading, that I think nearly all of us do. She asks us to consider the effects of both of these and invites us to tune in to track our own habits of interruption to see how it affects conversations. Click here to read the full post.
What if you decided to listen more deliberately today? What would you learn? Try it and find out, and share your story in the comments below.