Required: Outstanding Listening Skills

Dateline: January 24, 2014

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

This week we continue to explore personal leadership topics, since January is a time of reflection, resolutions and  personal-objectives-setting.  Recently, Nancy Settle-Murphy, President of Guided Insights, published an article at Executive Briefs titled  Great (Virtual) Communicator – If Only You Could Just Be Quiet.

Nancy is an expert in leading and facilitating virtual meetings.  She shared some of her observations of outstanding virtual leaders.

Virtual leaders must learn to listen for and interpret an enormous amount of information, within seconds, without benefit of body language or eye contact. And we’re not just listening for the words that are (or are not) spoken, but also the tone, pauses, inflections, cadence, lilt, laughter, throat-clearing and perhaps the toughest of all, silence.

So why is it so hard to practice superb listening skills? For starters, the emphasis on most business communications training is on how to create and present ideas, whether via report-writing, email or PPT slides. How to listen to others’ ideas gets but a footnote…

Her suggestions on how to be a better leader of a virtual (geographically dispersed) team are summarized here:

  • Open yourself to the possibility that other ideas are worth hearing.
  • Don’t act like a know-it-all.
  • Know what to ask about.
  • Craft questions that elicit meaningful responses in a short time.
  • Don’t shy away from asking the tough questions.
  • Give people a real opportunity to respond.
  • Silence is golden, especially when it’s yours.
  • Paraphrase to demonstrate active listening.

How do you manage your virtual team members?  Are you a good listener?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a nice weekend.

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