Leading with Civility: Listening Well Assessment

Graphic of Listen WellWhy does listening well matter?

In a recent post, 4 Tips for Developing Millennial Leaders Now, it was noted that emerging leaders want to improve the way they communicate, build relationships, and develop others.

Listening is an essential communication skill that all the other leadership and civility practices depend  upon. Listening well is a series of four small actions that matter when it comes to creating a respectful workplace. These small actions include:

1. Making eye contact with the other person.

2.  Getting down the basic details of what the other person is saying.

3.  Asking questions to gain a deeper insight into what the other person is saying.

4.  Checking with the person to see if  the meaning is understood.

Graphic of 4 Components of Listening

A great way to support emerging leaders to develop these skills is to model them. Here are a few questions to assist you in assessing  how  well you listen.

Self-Assessment  (Rate yourself as never, sometimes, or almost always)

  • Do I make eye contact when someone is speaking?

  • Do I listen for details?

  • Do I ask questions that help the person explain the purpose of their communication?

  • Do I summarize what I heard and check for understanding?

Next Steps

If you almost always take these small actions, you are modeling strong listening skills.  A good next step to helping to develop an emerging leader would be to share this assessment with the person you are developing.  They will determine where they need more awareness and practice and you can give them support and feedback.

If you sometimes take these small actions, you can improve with awareness.  A way to motivate yourself is to imagine a more respectful workplace by consistently modeling the skill of listening well.

If you rated yourself as never, perhaps you really don’t want a more respectful workplace because you feel that this type of workplace would be less effective.  A point of clarification is a reminder that skilled behaviors like speaking up are important for an effective workplace.  Listening well is the complement to speaking up.  Both skills need to be present.  People who listen well naturally may not be skilled at speaking up.  People who speak up naturally may not be skilled in listening.

We are curious to know about your experience with communication skills.  What great resources are available?

Gather 510 px square

The Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we gather tips for leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.

Appreciation: Insight from #PeopleSkills Chat – Feb 15, 2015

Following along and learning from Kate Nasser’s weekly twitter chat has proved to be insightful.  This is the third post based on learnings from the chat.  The first week was about optimism and diligence and the second week was about silence.

So far, all the topics related to people skills connect to the concept of civility because it is the small actions and the skillfully applied behaviors we take as individuals that lead to respect for others.  We don’t have to wait for respect to give respect.  According the author P.M. Forni, we can choose civility.

This week, rather than list all ten questions, the focus here will be on Question 8

Are people more likely to appreciate others like them or different from them? Why?

A few comments to ponder….

Henry Wallace quote on diversity

Henry A. Wallace spoke about needing differences, or in his words, “all kinds.”  While it is easiest to appreciate what we know, a deeper and compassionate look at others can lead to appreciation, respect and better outcomes.  For those that decide to appreciate others, you become a seed in the process of creating a more civil workplace.

Graphic of Cultivate Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we cultivate conversations about civility in the workplace.

10 Civility Insights #Peopleskills – Feb 8, 2015

Here are the 10 questions Kate Nasser asked on her Sunday, Feb 8, 2015 Twitter Chat.  Reviewing it here gives us an opportunity to gain insight about civility and leadership in the workplace.

1.  Silence is a powerful form of communication.

Silence is one of the main ways to listen well.  Alternatively, silence can lead to an unintended meaning in the workplace.  For example if we are silent in a meeting it could be sending a message of agreement.

2. Becoming skilled at listening well and speaking up gives silence positive power.

Because silence is a powerful form of communication it can have big effects on the world.  The biggest impact comes when we become skilled in civility practices like listening well and speaking up. Then we know when to pause and when to ask questions that promote others to speak up.

3. Silence becomes the trouble when speakers lose their power.

Silence also becomes trouble when speakers become too complacent speak up or too fearful.

4. Children are our future, they need to learn the nuances of speaking up and silence.

The effects of the belief that “children should be seen and not heard” can prevent children from learning and developing important civility practices that will make future workplaces strong, resilient and sustainable.

5. Silence is golden in the workplace when…

Silence supports an opportunity for others to speak up or an opportunity for reflection. Silence is not golden when it recklessly conveys agreement or is used because of fear of a leader’s reaction to speaking up.

6. Silence in the face of injustice…

promotes at best complacency and at worst agreement with the injustice. In the workplace this kind of silence in that face of injustice will lead to bad decisions and eventually legal challenges.

7. Great leaders are skilled at silence.

Great leaders know how to utilize silence to give people time to think and time to respond. When they notice silence they inquire in one-on-one conversations rather than assume that silence equals agreement.

8. A leader’s silence can cause trouble especially when there is trouble.

The leader will be most effective when he or she is skilled at speaking up and connecting with the right people to root out challenges before problems become too complex to change.

9. Mindful vs. Mindless

Silence is liked when it is utilized in a mindful way. Silence is disliked when it is used in a mindless way.

10. Finding the balance between silence and verbal interaction can be found through applying the civility practice of noticing little things.

Noticing little things is the skilled approach to vigilance from the #peopleskills chat discussed last week. Allowing silence in the form of a pause after a curiously asked question is a form of optimism because it allows for the belief that other people have the answers, they just need to be asked in a non threatening way and given time to respond.  Next week Kate Nasser says the #peopleskills chat topic will be: Love/Appreciation.  That should prove to be an equally worthy topic.

Gather 510 px squareThe Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we gather tips for leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.