If “listening is learning”

If “listening is learning”

If “listening is learning,” are we getting smarter – or not?

Current research suggests that we’re listening less. We limit input to people in our chosen networks and begin to formulate our response before we’ve even reflected on what we’ve heard.

In our experience with leader and teams, we see that those who stay engaged and successfully tackle the challenge around the next corner are dedicated listeners. They pause, they ask questions, they take in different perspectives. They have what Adam Bryant refers to as “adult conversations” – digging into the difficulty, probing the differences, settling in with ambiguity.

What holds us back? We feel pressed to “produce”. We dodge conflict. We are invested in our point of view. It’s our loss. When we don’t truly listen, things actually take longer, conflict escalates and our myopia becomes a problem.

So make today a listening day. In your next conversations, really focus. Don’t formulate your response or jump to solutions. Do sit, take it in, reflect and pause. Ask a follow up question. Identify emotions and clarify “between the lines” meaning of the words you hear. What have you learned? What new or unexpected insight can enrich your take on the situation?

Jim Heskett, Has Listening Become a Lost Art?, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, February 2014

Adam Bryant, Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation , Macmillan, 2014.