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Trending today: Customers and employees, alike, have become more sophisticated and expect engagement and a dialogue. They’re tired of not being heard.

Therefore, listening skills are necessary to climb the career ladder into leadership.

Unfortunately, many people seem to think their interactions with others don’t require a two-way conversation. Except for having to severely reprimand someone, speaking in a monologue no longer works.

To become a leader, you must exercise good judgment and know when to speak 10 percent but listen 90 percent of the time. The process must include asking questions.

In this way, you’ll better understand the other persons’ challenges and needs. As a result, they are more likely to feel empathy from you.

A career lesson

Constant listening is a valuable lesson I learned in climbing the corporate ladder and eventually becoming a business-performance consultant.

Candidly, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times people have said to me: “You’re a great conversationalist.” But I intently began to ask questions and listen in 90 percent of my conversations.

So, the irony in each case, the person felt validated and value from my listening.

The proverbial proof in the pudding: As a result, in multiple client-relationships, I’ve had the same clients for many years and they’ve referred other clients to me.

People, who listen — by seeking information from and about other people — are considered to be responsive and are better-liked. People more readily see some value in their relationships with you.

However, it’s worth noting that being perceived as delivering maximum value is most important to be considered a true leader. How? By listening intently. Why?

Merely being popular isn’t good enough. Getting respect from your stakeholders is most important. Respect is the ultimate result from being a good listener.

Potpourri of benefits

  • You’ll improve engagement.
  • You’ll improve the quality of your decisions.
  • You’ll be more persuasive including “buy-in” even from cynics.
  • You’ll improve relationships for teamwork at work and personally at home.
  • Overall, your company culture will improve dramatically In times of crisis and bad news, knee-jerk reactions and panic are unproductive. The first priority is listening and learning.
  • You’ll experience less drama during a crisis.
  • You’ll earn more revenue and ultimately stronger profits.

Pathway to leadership

How to embark on a campaign of listening:

At the office, read the proverbial room. Walk the floor twice a day. Watch what’s happening in the workplace and in meetings.

Encourage listening and learning. Let it begin with you by listening in 90 percent of conversations. Let subordinates and peers speak first by asking open-ended questions.

Encourage big-picture thinking.

If employees complain about issues, ask them questions such as, “What are your options?” and “What are your recommendations to benefit the organization?”

A similar approach is applicable for clients and customers. Begin every conversation or meeting with questions such as “How are you?” and “What are your concerns?”

For formal meetings after your opening questions, refer to your agenda and remind them of the objectives, give a status report and proceed with your recommendations. But always ask for their opinions.

Otherwise, you’ll never have the right answers until you ask the right questions.

From the Coach’s Corner, more tips for leadership:

Tips for Productive Meetings to Improve Performance – Here’s a checklist to engage your employees in energetic, inspiring staff meetings that will increase profits.

Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships with Effective Meetings – Signs you have good client relationships: They’ll thank you regularly, pay your invoices promptly, and will respond well to your recommendations. If you don’t have all three of these, here’s what to do.

Listening Skills to Improve Your Relationships and Business Performance – What counts in communication? Listening skills for discernment and trust. Discerning people are the most successful and listening skills are important for discernment. That goes for athletes and management, alike.

For Discussions on Difficult Issues, Try Walking Meetings – Sometimes people in business need a creative place at which to have productive conversations that are in out-of-the-ordinary locations. Perhaps you have an employee whom you need to counsel. Or you might have a peer who needs encouragement.

Habits of Leaders Who Have Positive Workplace Cultures – The Digital Age and global economy are demanding. Texting and emails are the norm. Face-to-face communication is minimal. This can hurt workplace cultures. Here’s what leaders do about it.

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.