If there was one skill that can make our world better were we to practice it regularly, it would be listening – the underused side of communication. Listening demonstrates respect for others. Listening is the key leadership-diversity-conflict communication skill. And listening improves with practice.
So how do we improve our listening skill? For a couple of minutes or three ideas,give the gift of your undivided, caring attention to the speaker. Do not think about what you want to say when it is your turn to talk. Keep your mouth completely shut. No questions. No comments. It’s about them, not about you. You don’t have to fix them, judge them, defend yourself, give your approval, or do anything during this time. Try it! It works.
Listening this way allows us to hear how people’s behavior makes sense from
their perspective. Listening is the gateway to acknowledging, understanding, and maybe eventual agreement with various perspectives. We gain the confidence that the differences between us need not hinder our ability to work towards the things we agree upon. And the only way we will uncover shared interests below colliding positions in cross-cultural conflicts is by listening.
Listening respectfully to others magically transforms rivals into energetic allies,confused workers into competent contributors, upset customers into product loyalists, uncertain ‘foreigners’ into interested citizens. So let’s transform our world. Listen!
Robin Denise Johnson, author Dance of Leadership, is an executive coach, and educator in the field of multicultural leadership development at UCLA. Learn more about Dr. Robin Johnson at KnowledgeCrush.com