Better Leaders are Better Listeners

We have all heard that communication is key, but how many of us truly believe we’re good at it? Not only do we live in an often polarized society, but the ways we communicate are different in the digital age. Not everyone’s preference for communication is the same. All that said, there are ways to still have a great conversation, ten ways to be exact.

Celeste Headlee’s 10 ways to have a better conversation seamlessly mirror EFBC protocols for meetings.

  1. Don’t multitask. In EFBC peer forum meetings, phones and notepads are off and away. By focusing on the present moment, one shows respect to the person speaking and listens with undivided attention.
  2. Don't pontificate. Enter a conversation with curiosity and without judgment and ego. Everyone has something new to learn.
  3. Use open-ended questions. Start with questions that begin with who, what, where when and why. At EFBC, we use clarifying questions. These come from a place of curiosity and ask for further clarification on something someone said.
  4. Go with the flow. Ideas, questions and comments may come into the mind while trying to listen to someone. Let them go. Focus on listening and not how to reply.
  5. If you don’t know something, say that you don’t know. Be genuine, because if you’re not, others will pick up on it.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. Everyone will experience things differently. At EFBC, we incorporate shared experiences at Forum meetings where the other person is seeking support. The presenter learns new ideas and approaches based on how others navigated a similar experience. This is used in place of advice but only after focused listening and asking multiple clarifying questions.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself. It comes across as trying too hard to make a point, and makes for boring conversation!
  8. Stay out of the weeds. Small details are usually not important to the conversation, so exclude them.
  9. Listen. Talking makes us feel in control but it doesn’t make for good conversation. The best thing one can do is stop talking and start listening.
  10. Be brief. Being concise moves the conversation along and shows respect for everyone’s time.

To sum it up, Celeste shares:

“I keep my mouth shut as often as I possibly can, I keep my mind open, and I'm always prepared to be amazed, and I'm never disappointed. You do the same thing. Go out, talk to people, listen to people, and, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

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