“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels good. When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and go on.
“It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.”
Carl Rogers, psychologist
Successful leaders are often publicly recognized for what they say, but they achieve their real power by listening and asking insightful questions. To talk, to listen, and to be heard are acts that help clear confusion. Listening is an active form of caring, and it qualitatively changes the way people work together.
Task-oriented people, especially those who have arrived in senior positions, sometimes find it hard to see how listening can help them. Listening is how leaders get people involved and connected with one another.
- Being listened to engages people in what is going on and helps develop buy-in.
- Talking about the organization’s goals and then listening to how people respond helps a leader develop strategy and objectives and uncover possible problems.
- Listening enriches the leader’s own thinking by getting a wider range of ideas. Being listened to fosters clearer thinking all around.
- As Carl Rogers implies, being listened to releases stress, increases motivation, and expands creativity.
Charles Handy, author of the classics Inside Organisations and Gods of Management, writes, “Sometimes it is indeed arrogance to trust your views more than those of others. Great leaders seem to live with a mix of humility and confidence, which includes the ability to admit on occasion that they are wrong.”
In order to connect with others, people may have to reach past feelings of busy-ness and separation. A leader committed to reaping the benefits of listening and being listened to can always find time to enjoy the people he or she works with.