During the past decade, I have spent a lot of time in airports. I am sure everyone has their own stories on what they do to pass the time. One of my favorite activities is to listen to other people’s conversations (I know, it’s pretty tacky, but after long delays you get awfully bored). While listening in, I have learned something. Conversations generally go like this: The first person comments on the weather. In response, the second person mentions something about a sports team. The banter continues to go back and forth in the same fashion. Both people are talking, but no one is really listening (except for me).
I recently discovered in Bill Ury’s book, “Getting to Yes” (which I would highly recommend), that this is a common problem in business. Let’s say we have a disagreement. While you are expressing your position, I am crafting my rebuttal — not listening carefully to what you are actually saying. Needless to say, the chances of us resolving our differences are pretty slim.
My question to you is: How good are your listening skills? I believe to be a Level 5 leader; you must be a great listener. You may want to ask one or two of your senior team members, who you believe will tell you the truth, what they think of your listening skills.