Are You Listening to Your Team?

Written by Corinne Jameson-Kuehl, RDH, BS, Owner

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understandthey listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey.

We are naturally wired to “listen” to someone speaking for the purpose of answering them or exchanging information.  Often times, we simply need to do that (or what is called Level I listening) but what separates great leaders from leaders is the ability to conversate with the power of listening enveloped with powerful questions to really understand and influence the intent of their culture.

What does it mean to really listen to a person’s words and to respond with the intent of empathy and understanding?

A good place to start is exampled in the book, “Conversational Intelligence” by Judith Glaser (whose parents were dental professionals by the way….) where she discusses her method called STAR skills which builds skills that achieve results by first building rapport.  This done by getting on the “same page” with the speaker and then listening without judgment to pay full attention and setting aside any bias or negative thoughts. The listener asks sincere discovery questions with curiosity. Lastly, reinforcing success and dramatizing the message elevates trust with storytelling and encouragement.

How does someone start to create this style of communication in the workplace?  Most owners feel all they do is “put out fires” and have “transactional conversations” when it comes to employee complaints and concerns in the culture.  It seems foreign to consider listening at level II which is advocating and establishing trust in a conversation. Can I trust you to listen to me and is there any possible influence?

The power of silence in level III listening really elevates the partnering and co-discovery process. This is where the change really can occur and success can be achieved more than imagined.  The conversation is “we” centered and team involved.

Examples of powerful questions:

  1. How can we have better accuracy?
  2. As your leader, what can I do specifically to assist you with those goals?
  3. How will you show your effort in establishing a better relationship with your co-worker?
  4. Tell me more about…

The benefits of implementing better listening coupled with powerful questions really encourage the leader to lead without stress by emotional hijacking. This logical exchange builds trust within the culture and employees start to keep themselves accountable and the “Rush for drama” is less and less.  It starts with a leader willing to truly listen with understanding.