Steps to Management Success – Step 50: Listen to What Other People Are Saying

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010

STEP FIFTY

Listen to What Other People Are Saying

Sometimes you might be so convinced of the value of a particular idea or decision that you really don’t want anyone else’s opinion or good judgment—or even the facts—to get in the way. That’s exactly when adhering to this rule can prevent you from making a hasty, ill-conceived, and usually expensive mistake.

WHAT IT MEANS: It is one thing to have the courage of your convictions, but it is quite another to tune out what may be some very worthwhile feedback. You may be at a meeting and apparently engaged in soliciting feedback, and you may even feign interest, but if you have already decided to cling to your opinion no matter what, then your actions are superficial and not very useful. You need to remain open to the possibility that your colleagues’ and coworkers’ opinions really are worth considering, even if you do not ultimately heed them.

ACTION PLAN: Sharpen your listening skills by sticking to the basics. Make eye contact. Focus on what’s being said—taking notes can keep your attention at attention. Recap what’s being said to make sure you understand it. Ask open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no) to draw out what others are really thinking. Also, be sensitive to the feelings behind the message. People tend to be wary of openly disagreeing with their manager, so they may be quite hesitant to do so. It’s up to you to create the atmosphere and send the signals that say it’s OK to disagree.

EVEN BETTER: Following the discussion, circulate a memo to summarize the various viewpoints presented. Ask for further clarification if necessary. Invite people to further comment on your summary—or to add any points you might have missed. This can ensure that you gain the benefit of everyone’s feedback.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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