Are You Listening?

I had a disappointing phone conversation recently with a local government leader. The heart of my disappointment came from having something to say, but not being heard. I can’t cast judgment though, because I often find myself on the flip-side of the situation.

It’s a common occurrence simply due to supply and demand. The amount of time leaders have to listen is usually disproportionate to the amount of people who have something to say. The key is not necessarily hearing everything from everyone, it’s how you make them feel.

I have no advice for leaders who don’t want to listen, but for those who genuinely do, here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Affirm that you want to listen.

Validate the other person by telling them that you do want to hear from them. This could be as simple as, “I really want to hear what you have to say.”

2. Explain why you can’t listen.

Unless you work for the CIA, most leaders can divulge why they can’t talk at the moment. Again, something as simple as, “I’ve got a busy schedule this morning…” or “I’m sorry, you caught me at a bad time…” goes a long way.

3. Offer an opportunity to listen.

Instead of just brushing someone off, tell them when you do have time to hear from them. “Can I call you back in 10 minutes?” or “I have a 30 minute window in my schedule next week.” Most people will be understanding of your limitations and will appreciate what you can offer.

“…let every person be quick to hear…” James 1:19

  • T. Blair

    great advice!