Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Be a better listener, one open-ended question at a time

If you find yourself struggling with your interpersonal relationships at work, or you’re coaching an individual who is challenged by ineffective relationships, being less than an effective listener may be contributing to the problem.

Many of our leadership attributes, and interpersonal tendencies—like how we listen—are hard-wired behaviors that can be a real bear to change, even when we make a commitment to do so. Keeping this in mind, making a commitment to use just one simple development tool at a time, versus a more comprehensive development approach, may help.

I have a client who was striving to be a better listener, and for weeks, she applied one simple tool—when she entered a conversation or meeting, she used the seek to understand approach. She simply focused on asking open-ended questions that would help her figure out what the other person was experiencing. And then she learned from their answers—she listened—which helped her be more responsive to their needs. Open-ended questions are the basis for seeking to understand others.

Want to be a better listener? Try entering your next conversation seeking to understand versus seeking to be understood.


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