What was the most disappointing response you ever got to something you said?
Imagine you’ve just given a great presentation and the response was bigger than your wildest expectations. Everyone in the audience was looking you in the eye, smiling, and nodding in agreement. The answers you gave to the questions you took were spot on. The comments you received after the meeting confirmed that everyone in the room seemed to get it.
How did you feel when that happened?
When communication like that happens, there is honest dialogue. People free free to say what they think without feeling like they’ll be shot for saying it. Their ideas may not see the light of day, but at least they’ll know that they’ve been heard and that brings a good feeling.
Now imagine this. You head home eagerly awaiting the chance to tell your spouse about how phenomenal your day was. Since you’re on cloud nine, you just know she will be too.
But she’s had one of those days where she feels like her back has a hundred arrows in it, shot by coworkers, supervisors, and customers. Nothing went right at her office. And it shows in the deep descending lines on her forehead that are poised to blow her eyeballs out.
When you start to share your good news, she interrupts with details of how lousy her day was. And she doesn’t care one whit about how awesome yours was, at least not at this moment.
Now how do you feel?
Your willingness to talk is directly influenced by the other person’s desire to listen.
As a leader, your attitude always determines whether your people will be honest with you or just say what they think you want to hear.
If you make a sincere effort to listen, and people know it, they are a lot more likely to be honest. If they do that, everybody wins. And when everybody wins, the team gets results and is better motivated to win.
Real listening is always worth the effort. If you’ll lead well, develop the attitude of intentional listening.