7 Ways to Help Your Boss Be a Better Listener
Listening is the first step back from the abyss of lousy leadership. But what if your boss is a lousy listener?
Listening leaders are better leaders.
7 Ways to Help Your Boss Be a Better Listener:
#1. Give them the courtesy you expect to receive.
How would you like your boss to listen to you? Listen like that to them.
#2. Be brief.
Plan what you want to say. Don’t ad lib.
Plan the end before you begin. People wander at the end. They talk longer than they should because they aren’t sure how to stop talking.
Plan your last sentence.
#3. Begin with the conclusion.
- I would like your insight on ABC so I can XYZ.
- I’m working on ….
- I’d like to get clarity on ….
#4. Leave emotion out of the conclusion.
Tell your boss what YOU want to get done.
Make life easier for your leader. Don’t ask leaders to control things you should be doing.
Don’t expect your leader to do your job for you.
#5. Tell the boss what they need to hear before explaining what you need to say.
- Show respect.
- Understand their concerns. If you don’t know their concerns, ask.
#6. Ask more ‘what’ questions and fewer ‘how’ questions.
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What’s the big picture?
- What should I be concerned about?
- What are your concerns?
- What’s important to you right now?
You are responsible for how things get done.
Ask ‘how’ only after you’ve tried your own approach. “This is what I’ve tried, but it doesn’t seem to be working. What suggestions do you have?”
#7. Invite their reflections.
- I’m not sure I’m being clear. What are you hearing me say?
- What do you think is important to me?
Bonus: Focus on organizational interests.
What could people do to help their bosses listen better?
A professional coach I worked with recently spent much of our time together working on presence and silence. As a leader I’m working to be more present in conversations, as well as let silence linger rather than speak to fill it. Silence helps everyone process what’s been said and the next few statements are generally quite a bit more profound and transforming after everyone has had several moments to process.
Great suggestion. It takes work to enjoy the silence.
Thanks Joel. You have my respect for working on listening. Listening takes energy, commitment, and skill. A pause is powerful. Cheers
Good stuff. Shared with my wife as she’s getting a new boss in a couple of weeks.
Thank you Peter. Best to your wife.
Excellent. Simple but profound. Like your differentiation of “what” questions vs. “how” questions. Thanks Dan.
Thanks rpope. Glad you appreciate the distinction. Cheers
Well said Joel!
We, my wife and I recently had that experience with a Sales person, we were digesting his explanation and he didn’t give us silence to let us think of what he presented, (Friday night he just wants to go home), we understood then schedule time for all parties, we wanted to be on our merry way too!
The discussion was financially critical to us and we wanted to be sure what we were paying for.
They only cared about the signature on the line and getting out.
Trust we will be speaking the head Guru on this one.
So plan your time, Listen as you care and don’t rush them out the door until all is said and understood.
Thanks Tim. PLAN YOUR TIME. There’s no sense in trying to communicate when there’s no time to think, talk, ask questions, reflect, and choose a path forward.
this is fantastic! I will be able to both use this with my Director, but also to help me to gain ideas to better use for my listening skills with my direct reports. Thank you!
Thanks bgearou. Yes, listening skills apply up and down the chain. So glad you found something useful. Cheers
Another really good one to help us manage bosses.
Sent from my iPad