The broadcaster Larry King once said:
I remind myself every morning. Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.
Being able to actively listen is a key leadership skill. The best leaders can listen to what others have to say, and have the patience to hear people out. You can always spot the leader who doesn't listen well.
They are likely to:
- Cut people off and finish their sentences if they hesitate
- Interrupt others to make a pronouncement or render a decision
- Miss the point others are trying to make
- Appear arrogant, impatient, or disinterested
It really doesn't so much matter why they do this. Sometimes these individuals suffer from the 'smartest person in the room syndrome.' Another likely cause is that during the course of the conversation, they are so eager to blurt out their response that they stop listening. In short, they shut down the 'listen' part of the brain and engage the 'I have the answer' part of the brain. The end result is the same... they are not availing themselves to new ideas, solutions, and opportunities.
So what is the takeaway for HR professionals. Start by looking introspectively at yourself. Are you practicing active listening skills on a consistent basis?
Next, take a look at the broader organization. Help those in the organization that suffer from this malady to see the light. Oftentimes, the individuals that aren't listening have no self-awareness of the problem. Finally, there are countless training sessions designed to build this skill. Remember, people don't set out to be poor listeners, they just happen to develop poor habits over time.