What is active listening? (0:28)
3 questions you can ask to encourage a deeper conversation (0:50)
How little of your attention is needed to satisfy others (1:45)
How I satisfied my toddler in minutes to get hours of time for myself (2:10)
Last week, we talked about shutting the dang door – replacing your open-door policy by redirecting questions and scheduling check-ins with everyone on your team so they learn to find answers, you have uninterrupted work time, they feel more heard, and you feel less fractured and overwhelmed.
A critical part of those scheduled check-ins was active listening.
So what does it mean to be active listening and present to someone? It means you’re hearing what they’re saying, and—
You’re not thinking about how you are going to defend yourself,
You’re not thinking about how you are going to change their mind, and
You’re not thinking about offering another opinion … while they’re still talking.
Instead, you’re truly hearing what the other person is saying, and you’re also encouraging them to go a little deeper with what they’re sharing by asking questions like—
“Oh, could you say more?”
“Mmm … that is an interesting perspective. Would it be possible for you to give me an example of when you see that happening?”
“Oh, yes. Hm, I hear that that is frustrating for you. What are some thoughts you have about how you might make some changes to make that better?”
With those kinds of questions, you’re really getting a meaningful dialogue going so people feel truly heard by you and they leave with empowering next steps that they came up with – or the two of you co-created – for moving forward.
That time is invaluable, and it can take less time than you might think…
Getting More from Less
Like I mentioned last week in “Shut The Dang Door!”, there’s a body of research that says people who spend 10 minutes a week with you when you are not distracted – when you’re not thinking about the next task, you’re not running to another meeting, or feeling pressured that you have to go somewhere – feel more fulfilled than people who get a half hour of time with you when you’re distracted.
You know, I remember when my youngest daughter, Annie, was about two-and-a-half years old, I also had my older daughter, plus I was involved in tons of community-based things. I had all kinds of hobbies – gardening and all this other stuff – and I was also working part-time. And Annie is the type of kid who needed really connected one-on-one attention.
I thought she needed connected one-on-one attention all the time, so I tried to give it to her by picking her up while I was on a phone call, having her do gardening with me, or whatever. And she would get really frustrated, and I could tell she didn’t feel like she was getting what she needed.
One day I realized, Beth, if you really want to get some things done that you really want to get done, just take five minutes. Sit on the couch with her and give her your full, undivided attention for those five or ten minutes.
And when I would do that, it would be like her gas tank got filled up! Off she would go, playing with her toys, exploring her world, entertaining herself, annoying her sister, whatever things that two-and-a-half-year-olds do – and that changed my world.
That period of time where I was fully present and fully connected with her for ten minutes, gave me about two to three hours when I had the freedom to focus and pay attention to what I wanted to do (though, of course, I still had to keep an eye on her).
So, to get the uninterrupted time needed to do your best work, I encourage you to think about these steps:
Set one-on-one, fully present meeting time. Even just 10 minutes could make a world of difference for you.