The more ideas you have, the more you will stimulate your own thinking and the thinking of all the people you come into contact with. The real key is to always be on the look-out for ideas – new and old. These ideas may be the opinion of others, news happening around the world, a novel you read that stimulated your imagination or even some gossip (if you can keep yourself objective and avoid the emotion). The main activity for yourself, with any idea, is can you think and ask yourself Why? When you are able to ask the real ‘Why’ questions, you will get more from the ideas, and you will be more effective in relationships and leadership as you will have a better idea of what drives human behaviour.
The key is ‘Strategic Listening’ but what is it?
Listening is 80% of our success. Therefore we can be more strategic in our listening by:
- Listening to understand as opposed to listening to respond.
- Listening will create great alliances, as when we listen we are actually showing we care and this will develop the trust needed for great relationships.
- Remember the person speaking is trusting you with their thoughts; always respect this fact and never do anything to break that trust.
- Be aware of the things that are not being said, ask yourself why the person has a need to tell you what they are telling you.
- Ask non judgemental questions that will encourage more conversation – ask the person to tell you how they felt and ask them to share the reactions of other people in the moment too.
- Before you ask a question, ask yourself if you know the answer to your question (you probably do, as we tend to ask novice questions in the beginning); if you know the answer, then structure your question around asking for more understanding of what they have just said. Remember – don’t let your questions be judgemental.
- Listen especially for words that are out of context, but don’t react to these words – just make a mental note so that you can ponder the answer later.
- The less you can say, the more you will hear; and as you practice this listening skill, you will become more strategic with your listening.
Listening is a skill, but certainly a skill we can learn if we are actually willing to listen.