When it comes to emotional intelligence – or EQ – why is the lost art of listening so important? And by listening, I mean actually hearing what someone is saying…
Steven Covey said it best from his best-selling leadership book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” when he wrote ‘seek first to understand and then to be understood.’
In his book, Covey laid out a scenario about a very early morning subway ride on a weekend where a man sat starring quietly ahead while his two kids were running amuck in the subway car making all sorts of noise and disturbing the few other commuters.
After a few moments, another commuter, who was very annoyed by the man’s lack of ‘control’ over his unruly children, spoke out saying: “Hey man, can you get control of your kids? What kind of parent are you?”
The man looked over at the commuter and quietly said: “Oh I am so sorry sir. You see, we just came from the hospital. My wife, their mother, just passed away. I am in shock right now and I am thinking about how I am going to tell the kids.”
Powerful stuff! Often what happens when we think we are listening is we are applying judgment upon the person who is speaking. We are designed through hundreds of thousands of years to manage our ‘status’ and our phycological safety and applying this ‘skill’ to protecting ourselves by protecting our ego’s and striving to be right in every interaction.
Leaders with high levels of EQ though, resist the urge to let their mind wander while they are in listening mode and they focus intensely on what the other person is saying without prejudice and judgment.
Leaders that are able to achieve this very special ‘state’ of listening, will discover that the level of focus intensifies, and they are able to:
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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