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Listening to be More Influential

Sims4Training found that experts say the ability to express yourself verbally often reaps influence. There is evidence (Journal of Research in Personality) that being an effective listener is also as important.

Effective listening:

  • Prevents miscommunication

  • Reduces frustration

  • Allows the listener to obtain valuable information, increasing their ability to influence

The listener can tailor their response, which can be a persuasion attempt, better when those being ‘spoken to’ feel ‘listened to’, building liking and trust.

Good listening skills have been shown to positively correlate to the effectiveness of leaders – making leaders seem more:

  1. Conscientiousness – thoughtful and goal-directed

  2. Extroverted – expressing positive energy and emotions

  3. Open – creative, curious, insightful, and informed

  4. Agreeable – showing trust, kindness, and affection

How can I tell if I am a good listener?

How well we speak and present is easy to measure through evaluations, praise, or criticism. However, it’s difficult to measure how well we listen.

Clients regularly advise us that their more productive teams are those who exhibit good listening and communication. We often observe in our Simulation workshops that teams who listen effectively to each other, often outperform those who don’t.

We’ve found that some of the teams in our workshops genuinely do not ‘hear’ what their partners say. Often because they have already made up their mind what they assume they are going to say. Building positive awareness of this ‘mindset preset’ is the first step to correcting it.

How can I become a better listener?

In his book ‘The Art of People’, Dave Kerpen asserts that there are three steps you can take to improve your listening skills:

  1. Focusing - we are often distracted and fail to pay attention to what is actually being said. Dave Kerpen encourages us to practice really giving the person speaking to us our full attention and placing effort on being in the moment.

  2. Mirroring - by reflecting back what the person has said to you (or what you think you heard) the person feels valued, you confirm your understanding and remember what you heard.

  3. Validating - giving the person ‘permission’ to feel their emotion, e.g. “It’s OK to feel anger – I would feel the same way”.

Why not practice these and ask someone for feedback on how your listening skills are improving?

A risk-free way to practice

Attending one of our Simulation workshops (where teams compete against others in an artificial intelligence business gaming situation) is a great way to practice listening skills related to:

  • Managing stakeholders or programs

  • Leading projects or change initiatives

  • Orchestrating a crisis response

We find that teams, playing the simulations, filter what they hear and take in. The various teams often hear different messages, although the actual message given is the same to each team. Therefore, they are also filtering and limiting what they are learning. During the workshop debrief attendees realize that they naturally have filters installed based on their experience, biases, and cultural exposure. This realization is the first step to recognizing, modifying, and removing some of these blocks to listening.

Reach out to Fuse if you would like to learn more about experiencing a Simulation workshop to practice your listening skills.

Research sources: Journal of Research in Personality (2012) – The role of listening in interpersonal influence (Aimes, Maissen and Brockner)

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