7 Ways to Meet the Need to Feel Seen, Heard, and Understood
You feel motivated when you feel seen. You tend to disengage when you feel unheard. You’re anxious or angry when you feel misunderstood.
You engage when you feel you matter.
How can leaders build environments where people feel seen, heard, and understood?
7 ways to meet the need to feel seen, heard, and understood:
#1. Hold yourself accountable for personal development. You demonstrate solidarity with the team when you publicly work to become a better leader.
- Seek feedback.
- Practice vulnerability. Declare development goals.
- Discuss progress. Let people know how you’re doing.
Expect more of yourself than you expect from others.
#2. Provide clear expectations. Everyone needs to know what success looks like before they go to work today. Development opportunities connect to achievement.
People feel seen, heard, and understood when you help them rise.
#3. Recognize strengths publicly. Everyone on the team needs to know the top five strengths of everyone on the team. Some teams post each other’s strengths on the conference room wall.
#4. Schedule developmental one-on-ones. Where do you want to go? How can we help you get there?
Gallup’s research indicates high-development cultures contribute to feeling seen, heard, and understood.
#5. Learn to listen.
If you think you’re a good listener you’re probably wrong.
- Look at people when they’re speaking.
- Stop fidgeting.
- Ask questions.
- Thank people for contributing.
You can listen without committing to do everything people say.
#6. Accept the human condition. Everyone has weaknesses, even you.
People feel seen, heard, and understood when you know their weaknesses and respect their contribution.
#7. Practice empathy. Say, “It seems like you feel ________.” When you’re off the mark ask, “What am I missing?”
Affirm people’s energy. “You just lit up, what’s going on for you right now?”
“A person first starts to live when he can live outside of himself.” Albert Einstein
What makes you feel seen, heard, and understood?
Which of the above practices seem most relevant to you today?
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I require my five grandson’s to make eye contact with me when I’m speaking.
That feels scary! 😬
Dan I have to agree with Paul. Teaching someone young the importance of looking at others both when listening And speaking is critical in life and business. When I network I ask a person a hard question and they almost always look down before answering. Then you are already on the defensive. Brad
Thanks Brad. But I look up when I think. I just scan some websites that focus on eye movement. Downward eye movement might indicate shyness, timidity, or shame. Of course it could mean you are ugly and it’s easier to concentrate when I look away. 🤔
This should be tempered with the fact that eye contact can sometimes be culturally driven. For example, some people who have grown up in military families have shared that they were taught not to make direct eye contact with authority figures and some cultures perceive it differently (not always positive).
Also, as leaders, we must be careful when interpreting other people’s behaviors. We are not always right. Lack of eye contact could also mean that I am intimidated or that I have a low self-regard. If we are wrong, we could be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for that person (https://www.britannica.com/topic/self-fulfilling-prophecy).
Dan, thanks for an awesome post (as always!). 🙂
I love #5 “Learn to listen” and you are so right when you say, “If you think you’re a good listener you’re probably wrong.” I keep trying to be a good listener but can see my errors of beings that good listener.
Thanks for the great insight!!! You start my mornings with your great words of wisdom to make me a better person. I appreciate that.
My biggest listening-weakness is being too eager to jump in. I work on staying calm. Asking second questions. Noticing what’s important to the speaker. It’s a constant challenge. (Especially if you are as smart as we are. :-))
That’s interesting, Brad. I’m sitting here imagining someone asking me a question that requires thought, and my first instinct is to look down. I want to disengage from the interaction to marshall my thoughts and respond thoughtfully. Do you interpret looking down as a negative? (Even as I contemplate my reply, I find myself looking away.)
Of course eye contact is nuanced. It can be used as a way to dominate, in other cultures looking down is a sign of respect. When a dog stares at me, I feel threatened. And there are all those “profilers” who can tell that you are lying by looking up to the right. Or is it the left?
Ultimately people want to know that you perceive them as a whole person. I am really thoughtful about articulating the 5 strengths of my staff. Thinking about one person on my team whose performance is competent but I’d be hard pressed to call out a specific strength. Shame on me for not really seeing her.
Dan and all -a follow up on eye contact. I often tell people that when asked a hard question, look at the person and say something, even just rephrasing the question. This gives you time to think of what to say but still seeming fully engaged.
Really Appreciating the responses of Elizabeth to the question about eye contact.
When we demand it , are we wanting to exercise control over the other person?
Just curious. Being open to many ways of communicating means respecting the other and that won’t happen if we are busy judging them because they do not adhere to our way of communicating.
Our organization offers a Leadership Development Program for those in supervisory positions. One of the primary ideas is to define success upfront. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you don’t know what success is, how will you get there or even know if you’re on the right path? By defining success, you narrow your scope and, hopefully, do only that which brings you closer to your goal.
I’ve shared Leadership Freak with my team members to help them build their leadership abilities and prepare them for future leadership roles. Thanks for providing me with a great development tool.
In many countries looking directly at or into the eyes of an elder or a person of authority is a sign of disrepect. Children are punished for doing it as they as seen as rude