Focused Listening: Leadership Journey of Discovery, Pt 5

Focused listening is a key component to being a Level Five leader. At today’s modern pace, often with the intention of multitasking, information can be lost. Conversations end up needing to be repeated. Meetings are held, but is everyone truly “present?”

How do we address the concern that we aren’t actually hearing our fellow team members with real detail? By becoming focused listeners.

Here are five simple and direct strategies I’ve learned from my experience that will help ensure everyone is listening and stays on the same page:

  1. Eliminate the distractors. Put down your smartphone, and turn off your notifications for the duration of the conversation. Point your laptop or desktop monitor away from you — out of sight, out of mind. The less technology involved, the easier it is to remain focused.
  2. Maximize face-to-face contact.  Stand up from the desk, if needed, and stand right next to one another. Be in the moment.
  3. Take notes. Use a 3×5 card and write down the key details of the discussion. Not only is it a demonstrative way of showing that you are listening, it can also be an important reference later on.
  4. Backbrief. At the end of the conversation, review the important points that were talked about. If something was “lost in translation,” this is a quick and easy way to discover that. Sorting out misunderstandings early can save your team headaches down the road.
  5. Set a standard. Establish that this is what “right” looks like. If all team members and leaders of your organization use the above methods on a regular basis, you’ll set a higher level of expectation of what “listening” should be: Focused Listening can become your norm.

Enjoy the journey!