What better way to spend the holidays than reading on topics far away from the day-to-day. In my case, the main themes for the break were Britain/Wessex during the middle ages (i.e. around 870-900 AD) and communication/leadership. It seems a bit silly to read on the latter topic, given my only ’employee’ is a (very well behaved) Mac Pro, but I’ve enjoyed learning about listening/managing/general ‘woo-woo’.
The most recent book I read on the communication topic is Time to Think by Nancy Kline. A key observation from the book is that, particularly in a work environment, folks feel the need to constantly be heard – whether that means interrupting others, making suggestions of varying helpfulness, etc. Expediency is the key, without regard to forethought. The result is a lack of thinking, particularly that which is clear and useful.
So the fix for this problem is pretty simple: listen carefully, and listen more. Though the author goes into some formulaic approaches for encouraging thinking at team meetings and one-to-one sessions, that main idea carries throughout. Having used some of the techniques at home, I can truly say that simple solution works remarkably well (though is actually pretty difficult for me to action – I’ve a tendency to jump to conclusions and/or complete sentences).
Thinking upon the book’s messages in my past career, I can now see a similarity between the managers I really enjoyed and their ability/willingness to listen carefully to my (sometimes idiotic) ideas and respond appropriately. Yes, a lot of ideas were eventually thrown in the proverbial bin, but the main point was I felt like I was valued and I contributed. Strange how listening leads to the feeling of being valued, which leads to better ideas. Or at least more job satisfaction.
In sum: a challenge for you, the reader. The next time you find yourself in a conversation with a significant other or colleague about an important topic:
- Look him/her in the eye and listen carefully (no interruptions!!) until he/she is finished.
- Ask if there’s anything else he/she would like to say before making ANY comment. Then listen more.
- When you do make a comment, begin with encouragement (even a ‘very interesting’ will do).
- That’s about it.