When you instill a discipled way of thinking into your employees, they are better able to express their ideas. For example, by teaching members of your company to use the process of solving, defining, measuring, identifying and controlling, you are teaching them how to better convey their thoughts. These fundamental tips help unlock tremendous knowledge and skills people have in a process.
What Stephen Covey Taught Us About Listening as a Critical Leadership Skill
In his famous book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” author Stephen Covey makes a particularly interesting point about the power of listening in the world of business. By Covey’s reckoning, most people act under the belief that social influence is a quality that flows from the self. In other words, most people think that to be influential, a person must say and do the right things to maintain another person’s interest. The impetus here is on personal action as an active exercise in wresting influence from a social meeting.
Why Most People Don’t Listen
In a media-saturated culture, it is easy to see why so many people engage in this kind of one-way thinking. In the imaginary landscape of television society, the Don Drapers of the world are constantly accruing status and influence by making compelling speeches and by appealing to the emotional prejudices of listeners. As with many things in life, however, judging reality by its televisual equivalent is something of a fool’s errand. Indeed, by Covey’s reckoning, trying to win influence by being the best talker in the room is akin to trying to be the most polite person at a dinner party by eating all of the food on the table.
How Influence Actually Works
To wit, Covey’s point is that influence is not something that comes from what we say but from how well we allow other people to communicate their thoughts, interests, and ideas. By truly listening to others, we give people a chance to actually be heard. In fact, Covey goes to great lengths to explain that most people don’t listen to what other people have to say at all, and that most conversations are led forward by two people who are either talking at one another or who are each waiting for the other person to stop talking. This back-and-forth struggle for attention may work well in a tug-of-war competition, but it sure doesn’t make for a productive conversation.
The Simple Power of Listening
To Covey’s mind, influence is not something that moves outward from ourselves; it is something that flows towards us from our environment. If we can truly seek to understand what other people are saying, and if we can truly listen to other people without simply waiting for the chance to speak, other people will value our presence. In both the business world and in society at large, people who listen to others are rarer than 24-carat diamonds. And they are just as highly valued.
Indeed, the day that we truly begin to listen to what other people have to say is the day that we will truly begin to cultivate social influence. Being a good listener isn’t always easy, and sometimes we’ll feel compelled to interject a relevant story or opinion into a conversation. (This is a normal thing to do in any back-and-forth discussion.) But when we truly seek to listen to other people, we will be in a better position to make a difference. That is the kind of influence that really matters in the business world and beyond.