This statistic mentioned in a recent post in the Harvard Business Review is startling:
Workers who feel they have a boss who unfairly criticizes them or doesn’t listen to their concerns have a 30 percent higher chance of coronary disease than workers who say they have managers who treat them with respect.
Is your leadership hazardous to the health of the people you lead?
Do you listen to your team members’ ideas? Do you actively seek their point of view? Do you hear their concerns and show empathy when appropriate? Do you let them know that who they are and what they do matter…by actively listening to them?
One of the most valuable discoveries on our Truly Human Leadership journey has been that effective listening skills can be learned. Our module on Reflective Listening, part of the Communications Skills Training offered through our corporate university, has proven to be our most powerful and popular topic. In essence, effective listening requires these five components:
1) Attending behavior: Show that you are fully present with a person. Make eye contact and/or nod in approval. Lean forward, offer an open body posture.
2) Acknowledgements: Let others know you are tuned in using both verbal and non-verbal clues. Verbal examples are “Yes, I see…” or “That’s interesting…” Non-verbal acknowledgements are head nods and/or expressive eyes.
3) Door openers: Encourage others to talk more. Some examples to invite more conversation are “Go on…” and “Tell me more…”
4) Silence: Offer the person you are listening to the floor by quieting your mind and voice. Internally, that means turning down the volume on your own thoughts; externally, it means simply not talking.
5) Reflective listening: Prove to the talker that you understand. You can do this by saying something like “What I hear you saying is…” and then repeat the essence of the talker’s message.
As leaders, listening is one of the most important things we do. It builds rapport, it builds trust, it builds followers, it builds other people up, and now we know it can help build wellbeing.
If not listening to your team members can harm their health, imagine how it might affect your family? Learning the skills to become an effective listener will make you a better leader and a better human being. And that’s healthier for both those you lead and love!