Leadership Communication Lesson 1: Listening is Not a Skill, It’s a Decision

(The next 2 weeks I’m traveling around western europe on holiday. I’ll be posting pictures from my trip on my Facebook page, if you’d like to follow my unique journey driving through Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to see 6 rock and roll concerts with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. I’ll also be writing about the trip some here as well but the whole trip will be documented on Facebook as soon as I can find time at a wifi-hot spot on the road. In preparation for my time away, I’ve written a number of blog posts that have been scheduled to go out in advance, here’s the first one).

At the beginning of my seminars, workshops and keynote speeches on the topic of The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication, I always ask my audiences what, in their experience, are the biggest roadblocks, challenges and frustrations with communication in their world.

Invariably “listening” (meaning the lack of) comes to the fore in virtually every talk I give.

Well, its been about 14 months since April 2011 when I published my most popular white paper report, The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication, and since then over 3000 people have downloaded that report and “not listening” is not in among the seven.

Now, I don’t challenge those who offer “listening” as a challenge in their world as to whether they are frustrated that others don’t listen to them when they try to communicate, or if they are admitting that they often don’t listen as attentively as they should to others. Maybe I should.

I still find it Interesting, myself that “listening” did not make my top seven deadliest of all communication mistakes.

I didn’t realize why until very recently.

I believe there are 3 reasons for this:

  1. It’s too easy to throw “not listening” out, its just a platitude:
    • Additionally, I’ve found when when people bring up the subject of ‘not listening, it’s often focused on blaming others for a failure to listen and little insights into the sins of the communicator.
  2. I originally viewed listening as a subset of Communication Sin #6 – Lack of Focused Attention, which has more to do with multi-tasking when communicating with another, but it doesn’t directly relate to listening:
    • It does, however, relate to the person being communicated with and their decision to give the other person focused attention.
  3. Listening is Not a Skill, It’s a Decision:
    • We are born with two ears and one mouth for a reason. Most of us have heard that since we were in kindergarten.
    • I, personally, do not believe we need a whole lot of lessons in listening, we just need to make a decision that the other person is important enough that they deserve to be listened to.

So, listening is a choice. Listening is a choice we make every minute of every day. It’s your choice.

More on this topic to come later this week!

For now, though, let me know what you think, leave a comment below.

’til next time, make it a great week,