It's hard, especially when you're smart and know the answer. It seems simple, but we frequently miss the most important part of building relationships with our co-workers — listening. Effective listening seems to decrease as we get more mature in our careers, probably because we know (or at least we think we know) a lot more. Sometimes there is a switch, and we end up talking less and listening more. Sometimes.
Over the years, in working with a wide variety of executives, I've found that many people who, on the surface seem to passionately disagree, are actually not that far apart. The perceived distance is usually a result of not understanding the other person's perspective, or from not really listening to what they are wanting to do, or not taking the time to really understand the other person's perspective.
Listening takes practice…and patience. It helps to put yourself in the shoes of the other person, and try to understand things from their perspective. It also helps to try to "listen purely" — that is, without your agenda or your filter. If you can, try to just listen without simultaneously thinking about what your reply is going to be. Try to take what you hear at face value, without spoiling it by "grading it" based on how close it is (or not) to your perspective. If you are a man, try not to "fix" what was just said. Just listen. Like I said, listening is hard. (If you want to see a very funny video on this topic, click Here)
The discipline of good listening is a valuable tool in life, not just business. Want to make your marriage better? Become a better listener. Want to be a better parent, boss, or employee? Become a better listener.
Here is a short list of some simple ideas for becoming a better listener: (and please send me comments on ones you've used and have found to be effective!)
Steve is a husband, father, and business exec. He loves anything outdoors, anything that is a hard challenge, and enjoys working with anyone who wants to continually improve. And golf. He loves golf. Steve is the founder and CEO of Executive Advisory Partners.