Listening – the foundation of leadership?

Many managers spend a lot of time worrying about how they communicate.  Often they focus on what they say and how they say it.  They tend to spend less time focussing on how well they are listening.

I was recently taught a simple mnemonic, CARE, that I find helps me to think about the quality of my listening.  You might find it helpful too.

C = Concentrate – pay them your full attention, avoid distractions, pay attention to what they are saying and not saying.

A = Assist – help them to tell their story.  Resist the temptation to say what comes to your mind until they have finished speaking.  Ask gentle questions to help them tell their story more fully

R = Rephrase – rephrase what you have heard them say and ask whether you have heard them properly.  Do they feel that you understand their perspective?

E = Empathetically Respond – now you can take your chance to share your thoughts and responses.  Make sure they are relevant, respectful and kind.

I know that in conversations I can often respond too early, keen to interrupt to share my own insights and knowledge.

This acronym reminds me to let them fully tell their story first.  To really listen, knowing that when the time is right I will find better words with which to empathetically respond.

Of course there are many other ways to listen….

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