Over the years, many people have told me that I’m a good listener. Recently, I discovered that I’m not as good as I would like to be. One behavior that I have identified and that I don’t like in myself is that sometimes, when someone describes a business problem that I have experienced many times, I jump to a conclusion and offer my advice without asking many questions about the individual’s specific concern.
In Edgar H. Schein’s book, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, he says, “We must become better at asking and do less telling in a culture that overvalues telling.” Ouch! He also says, “Humble inquiry is the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” He suggests thinking about what we ask, how we ask it, where we ask it and when we ask it.
Even for those of you who are “great listeners,” I would suggest reading this short little book because it’s filled with many very practical suggestions.
So you say you’re a good listener. What would your subordinates say?