Wednesday, 20 September 2017 15:10

Strong Leaders Know how to Talk Less, Listen More

Communication remains an essential component of success in leadership, and the ability to listen, really listen, should be part of every business leader’s skill set.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we continually stress the importance of back-and-forth communications—between leadership and employees, lumber traders and customers, sawmill managers and yard personnel, etc. We believe that progress (and success) is only possible when people work together, and that’s only possible when individuals listen to what others are saying.

talk less listen moreAt the same time, we understand that in an era of so much “background noise,” it’s a constant challenge to hone our listening skills. If you are focused on helping people in your company become better listeners, here are a few things we have found helpful.

Recognize that leadership is all about listening. Business leaders have strong personalities—a necessity, generally, for ensuring that a coherent strategy guides their companies into the future. Don’t make the mistake, however, of equating “strength” with “pushing your own views or agenda” on everyone you come in contact with. To truly understand what’s happening both within and beyond your business, listening—rather than talking—keeps you best informed.

Get rid of distractions. Ever catch yourself thumbing away on your phone while someone is talking to you? Of course it’s possible to scan email or text messages while engaged in a phone conversation or face-to-face with someone—but in reality, you’re not genuinely engaged in that conversation. That’s why we often feel like we’ve just wasted precious time talking to someone and not getting anything from it.

The key is sharply limiting or eliminating objects and forces that distract us from listening. Divided attention spans yield poor results.

Embrace the components of active listening. Active listening involves adopting specific behavior patterns to improve your capacity for listening:

  • Listen with the intention to fully grasp the other person’s meaning.
  • Maintain eye contact and give your full attention.
  • Repeat back (in your own words) what the other person has said.
  • Ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the other person’s point.
  • Refrain from interrupting to get your own point across.

Practicing the art of active listening can lead to a far deeper understanding of the needs, concerns and desires of others with whom you do business. From our experience in the hardwood lumber industry we know it helps develop a deeper understanding of what it will take to be successful, regardless of the situation. 

What are your hardwood lumber needs? Let us know. We are ready to really listen!

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber
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