A few days ago, I attended a conference in Lagos organized for entry-level managers. I must commend the organizers for putting together a very informative event. I was impressed with the choice of topics and the speakers. It must have been a huge success for the organizers, judging from the feelings and expressions of satisfaction I saw in the participants.
One of the topics delivered at the program was “top skills every business manager must possess”. Like the others, it was an interesting session; the speaker did a marvelous job on the topic. The speaker in his session mentioned that one of the top skills a business manager should possess is “Listening”.
I observed that the speaker all through the sessions focused on the utilization of the top skills by the business managers towards their subordinates. While I agree with all his points, I believe that there is more to the listening skill than the speaker told at the conference.
Listening, as you might already know, is vital to effective communication. One of the definitions the speaker gave of listening is “it is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages”. However, I would like to add that the art of listening starts with the initial sender of the intended message.
Listening starts with you!
As a business manager, supervisor or team lead, the question for us is “how often do we listen to ourselves or pay attention to our words before we let them out?
I think that listening to self is just as important listening to the others. As communication takes place between the sender and the receiver, I believe that we owe it to our subordinates and other colleagues, to communicate the right words with their intended meanings. We can achieve this by paying attention to the words we have formed in our minds before we speak them.
Often times I hear people apologize for their mistakes – they did not mean to say the words they actually said. These mistakes could have been avoided if only they paid more attention to their words.
The speaker at the conference also mentioned another point that I agreed with. He said that we do not have to be in a hurry to respond when we are asked questions or to make suggestions or recommendations. We could use a few seconds to plan our responses in our minds before we utter them. It is better to delay a little and give a remarkable response than to start immediately and stutter along the way for lack of words or inconsistent flow of our words. He suggested that we could use “filling statements” in place of the silence that comes as a result of the delay. Some examples of such statements are:
- Thank you for that brilliant question
- Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this
- That is quite an interesting question
And so on.
I have learned that success in every aspect of life starts with self. For example, an individual who has succeeded in self-leadership can become a good leader. This is the reason self-leadership is the foundation of effective leadership. The same is also true of emotional intelligence; it starts with self-awareness.
Therefore I think it is logical to say that I can become a good listener to people around me if I am a good listener to myself.
What do you think?