Effective Listening Skills for Leaders | Alex Lyon | Skillshare

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Effective Listening Skills for Leaders

teacher avatar Alex Lyon, Communication Professor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (1h 8m)
    • 1. Welcome & Overview

    • 2. Barriers to Effective Listening

    • 3. Nonverbal Cues & Body Language Tips

    • 4. Types of Listening for Leaders

    • 5. Comprehensive Listening Skills

    • 6. Let's Practice Comprehensive Listening

    • 7. Empathetic Listening Skills

    • 8. Let's Practice Empathetic Listening

    • 9. Critical Listening Skills

    • 10. Let's Practice Critical Listening

    • 11. Appreciative Listening

    • 12. Next Steps: Putting it Into Practice

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About This Class

Effective listening is the mark of a skilled leader

Unfortunately, most of us have difficulty listening completely. As a result, we get distracted, lose track of the point, and then cannot effectively respond when it is our turn to talk. We may even have conflicts with colleagues because of our poor listening.

The goal of the course is to teach you how to listen so you can do the following:

  • Effectively meet clients’ needs
  • Connect with employees
  • Collaborate with colleagues

The class is geared for emerging leaders, creative entrepreneurs, and small business owners. No prior knowledge is required. 

This class teaches you how to overcome common listening barriers and then listen with better empathy, comprehension, and analytical skills.

Format: The class provides a balance of practical explanations, concrete examples, and real-time practice. 

No special resources required.

Meet Your Teacher

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Alex Lyon

Communication Professor


Hello there, friend. I make courses to help emerging leaders build their communication skills. I believe that good leadership and communication change lives. I formed this belief when I was young. My first few bosses made a big impact on me. Some of my supervisors were excellent but others had weak leadership skills that made everything worse. Now that I am a leader and supervisor myself, I want to help as many new leaders as possible increase their impact so they can lead their teams with excellence.

I've been teaching college full-time, and consulting and speaking for over 15 years. I published my first book in 2016. 

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1. Welcome & Overview: up for leaders. Listening is one of the very best ways to be more effective. When we hear communication skills, we mainly think about how to speak more effectively, and that's obviously important. But most communication problems I have experienced are rooted at least partially in poor listening. When we're not listening. While we don't really understand our clients needs, we get into conflicts with people. We don't connect well with others. If these issues sound familiar, you are definitely not alone. Most people have difficulty listening completely. We get distracted, we lose track of the point, and then we cannot effectively respond when it's our turn to talk. And that's where the real problem start. So that's why I made this course on effective listening. My goal is to teach you how to listen to your client's needs more effectively, how to connect with employees, how to collaborate with your colleagues more easily in terms of who it's for. The classes geared mainly toward emerging leaders, creative entrepreneurs, small business owners. You don't need any prior knowledge for this course, and it's great for all levels of experience, especially if you're just starting to learn about communication skills in terms of the specific content that you'll get. The course teaches you about verbal and nonverbal aspects of listening. How would overcome common listening barriers, how to start listening with better empathy, comprehension and analytical skills? The class is designed to provide a balance of practical explanations, concrete examples and riel time practice, where you listen to a message, pause the video and then work on your response. In terms of my background, I have over 15 years college teaching, experience, consulting and training. I wrote a book on communication and leadership, and my goal is to bring a combination of practical experience and classroom know how to be the best teacher I can for you. So I invite you to join me in this course and how to listen effectively for leaders, and I will see you in the next video. 2. Barriers to Effective Listening: If you've ever struggled with listening with really paying attention, you are not alone. As we look at this list of common listening barriers, see if you can figure out which ones you wrestle with the most. The first barrier is external distractions. Typically, this involves the environment around you. For example, your phone. If you have your phone out, that could be a huge distraction you might pick up on other conversations in the room. If there are other people around, could be just noise from the general environment you're in. Maybe it's a noisy room. Could be even things like your physical comfort, like maybe you're sitting in an uncomfortable chair or there's light coming through the window and it's shining in your eyes. And so you can focus on what the person saying, because you're distracted by that external factor. These things is a really common barrier Now. The fixes for this are for you to take charge and reduce thes physical distractions. You have way more influence over your environment than you probably realize. So, for example, put your phone away like turn it off all the way. Put it out of sight, out of mind close the door to the other room of people are making noise over there, move a little closer to the person. Make direct eye contact so you can sort out some of those distractions that way. Essentially, you want to take control of the environment, take initiative and you have a lot more control over that environment than you. Maybe realizing in addition to external distractions, these second distraction our internal distractions. That's a huge barrier. Some people call this preoccupation, meaning you're thinking about something else, so you may be in the moment talking to a person. But if you just had something happened earlier in the day, you might still be thinking about that. And then it clouds the way you listen to the person in front of you. Or you might be anxious about what's coming up next. You have a lot to do that day, and so you're distracted about things that are coming up. The other kind of internal distraction is called drift. Drift means that you're listening to a person, and maybe you're doing pretty good job at first. But then what happens is they say something and your mind takes that in a different direction, and it's so it reminds you something else. And then you're thinking about things in a different way, and by the time you come back to the conversation they have moved forward. And because of your internal drift, you have lost track of what's going on in that conversation. So the fixes for these internal distractions are, first of all again turned that screen off long before you ever get in the conversation. I like to also take notes beforehand on anything important that I need to talk about in that meeting and just the act of taking notes focuses me on the meeting ahead. Even if I don't look at the notes very much in the moment, it gets me oriented toward Well, this is what we need to talk about. Here's my job when I get there and that gets you more centered on the goals of that particular conversation, and also, once you're there, just get curious, get interested a little motivated about really giving that person your undivided attention . The third barrier is your level of focus is probably off. Typically, this happens when people try to focus too much on every little detail as it comes out, and that makes us anxious and nervous that we're gonna miss something that we're not gonna understand. And there's an expression. We might see a lot of individual trees when we listen for the details, but you will miss seeing the overall forest. So in other words, you hear lots of little details, but you can't see necessarily the big picture. And this is a huge barrier to effective listening, getting to focus on the details. So the fix for this is simple as you're listening. Listen for the big picture, listen mainly for the overall idea that the person is expressing and possibly some of the sub points in there. But make sure you get clear on the rial. Big picture first. Ask yourself, What are they really saying here? What's going on with them? Hear that? And then as the conversation goes on, you'll have a foundation on which to build those details. And remember those details. The fourth barrier is called the Rebuttal tendency, and this is a tough one. This is where, as you're listening, you want to quickly jump in and debate express your point of view, and that really short circuits the quality of listening that you can do because instead of listening, you're thinking about how you might word something. You're calculating how you might jump in, and that will cut off that listening in the moment cause you can't do both things at once so that oftentimes what happens is when it's finally your turn to talk and you jump in. Your common doesn't always line up with what they were saying. It might sound like you didn't really hear their point because you can't hear it all the way and think of a response that's articulate and corresponds to what they're saying. So the fix for this is to commit to listening 100%. Just be silent and make on contact and absorb. It'll don't worry about what you will say next, let them finish, let them finish their talking turn, express themselves fully and then take a thoughtful pause, which is classy by the way. It shows them that you care. Formulate your thought and then express yourself. The fifth barrier to effective listening. Is that something about the speaker or the message distracts you? In other words, how they look how they sound. It's throwing you off. Maybe they have an opinion that really goes against your opinion. You get very distracted by that, and that can be a huge source of poor listening because you can't really absorb what they're saying if you're giving into those distractions. So what I try to do in that situation is I try to set my pet peeves aside, my preferences aside, and I think about what's my goal here in this conversation? Am I trying to listen to them to show them I care about them? I'm trying to learn something about their opinion. What's my big picture goal? And that usually gets me off of those less important details of the conversation, like how they look or how they sound. And if something about them is really personally distracting, I try to cultivate a little more compassion and care for them as a human being and see them as a whole human being. And that usually softens my opinion, and I'm less distracted by how they look or how they sound. So which listening barrier is your biggest struggle. As a first step, take note of what you struggle with and then use the tips in this lesson as a starting place to make improvements 3. Nonverbal Cues & Body Language Tips: in any conversation. Most of what the other person notices is our non verbal communication, how we look, our facial expression, our body language. And if you don't look like you're listening, the other person will get the wrong impression. So the bottom line for this lesson is that your nonverbal communication, your body language, should support your verbal listening skills. In 1978 Arthur Wasserman wrote a book called Making Contact, and he talks about our nonverbal communication through the word softens. It's an acronym, and each letter stands for an important aspect of our nonverbal communication. And as we look at this list, take note of which items that you want to work on the most. The first s and softened stands for smile. In other words, smile have a warm, welcoming facial expression. When you're talking to the other person, it sends all the right messages. Now I take the word smile as a shorthand for your overall facial expression. Obviously, if you're in a more serious conversation, then you have to adjust your facial expression accordingly. But what you don't wanna have is a stone face. We have that blank look on your face while you're listening. This sends all the wrong messages to the other person you're listening to, like you're judging them like you don't care like you're not buying what they're saying. So s dancers smile. Oh, stands for open posture, and that just means your shoulders or open and oriented toward the other person in your hands and arms air open, gesturing freely, for example. You don't want to be closed off and and turning away or looking at a device you want to have an open posture. F stands for forward, and this literally means leaning forward an inch or two in your seat. As you are listening, you want to look like you're interested and leaning back at a meeting or in a one on one conversation leading back in your chair. Looks like you don't want to be there. You look dismissive. F stands for Forward T stands for time. Some people say it stands for touch, but I like time because nowadays you really want to give people the full opportunity to express themselves there. Everybody's in such a rush. You don't want to be in a rush. Listen completely. Just commit to giving them plenty of time to talk while you 100% listen e stands for eye contact. Eye contact shows that you are focusing on them. You're not distracted by looking again at a device or over their shoulder or somewhere else in the room, not looking up at the clock. You're looking at them, and the rule of thumb is you want to make eye contact with a person in a one on one conversation about 80% of the time. You don't want to stare them 100% of the time. That could make them feel a little uncomfortable, like intimidated. You want to look away every once in a while so that about 80% of the time you're looking directly at them. And again, you can not listen completely while you're looking at a screen. Even if you say I can listen and look at the screen at the same time, nobody's going to give you credit for being a good listener. If you're looking at a device while trying to listen to them, so I contact is the way to focus on them N stands for a nod. This means exactly what it sounds like. You not a little bit as you're listening. After they make an interesting point or something, you're hearing you're nodding now. Nodding doesn't mean you agree. It just means that you're tracking with them. You're following their point, your understanding where they're coming from. That's what a nod does. So don't think by nodding that you're signaling you agree. Just means you're a good listener and you're tuned in. And while we're talking about nodding, I want to talk about how you sound a little bit. In other words, when you nod, you'll typically hear people say things like Uh huh um, yeah, or it might even be a short little sentence like I hear you that typically goes along with nods. Now, this is not taking the conversation back so that you have a whole talking turn their short little utterances that give feedback to the other person that goes along with the nod that shows that you are listening. So add those small utterances to your nonce, and it's gonna come across great. The second s stands for space. This is where you typically want to sit a little bit closer to the person to show them that you're interested and you want to connect, but you don't want to invade their personal space, so you have to make a judgment call here. Generally, sitting a little bit closer creates a feeling of bonding, especially if it's a crowded area and you connect by sitting a little closer. But also you have to use your judgment. You don't want to be so close that you're that you could touch them. You want to give them a little bit of personal space. So Softens was an acronym created by Arthur Woz Mur, and it's really helpful because it encompasses almost all the types of nonverbal cues and skills that we give off when we're listening and weaken. Do these either better or worse. So what I'd like you to do is look at the list and pick the top two or three for now that you would like to get better at. So these nonverbal tips should help us focus on the other person while we're listening, and it also shows to them that we are in fact tuned in. So pick the top two or three and make sure to put the tips in this lesson into practice. 4. Types of Listening for Leaders: there are different types of listening. Depending upon the situation will be looking at the four main types of listening in this lesson. And the key pointed lesson is this. As a leader, as a professional, you have to be really good at the 1st 3 types of listening. Be ableto switch back and forth and do more than one type at the same time. Whether you're in a one on one conversation, ah, group meeting or listening to a sales presentation, for example, and I'll give you an overview here and then we look at each of them more deeply and even practice some of them in the next several lessons ahead. The first type of listening is called Comprehensive Listening. This is listening to learn you're listening for contents. If you're a student or an employee, you do this all the time. But leaders also have to be very good at comprehensive listening because you have to learn about every aspect of your employees world your clients world now, before where leaders were often called individual contributors and you really have to know about your little area. But once we become leaders, we become more generalists. We have to learn about every aspect really, of the business and so comprehensive listening is one of the very best ways to become knowledgeable about all areas of an organization. Almost every meeting I attend, for example, at work involves lots of comprehensive listening. People are explaining timelines for their projects, the next step involved in a process that I might be involved in. And I take notes and I begin to absorb it all. So comprehensive listening is listening to learn or, as the name says to comprehend, second type of listening is empathetic listening, listening to the emotions off the speaker. That's where we tune into what's going on with people. This means we're listening to clients and employees a little bit like we're a counselor. So somebody I currently supervised came in a few weeks ago with an issue, and I put on my empathetic listening hat, and it really helped me understand the employees situation better and helped me connect with that person more deeply. And sometimes just the act of listening is all the empathetic listening requires. Many times, the person doesn't necessarily need us to jump in and solve all their problems. They might just need to express themselves and get it out out loud, and so you can empathize and listen this way just by being a sounding board. In other words, empathy can sometimes mean just being there to listen. The third type of listening is called Critical Listening. Listening essentially to test ideas through critical thinking and analysis. We want to make good judgments and to make better decisions. We have to listen more carefully especially, for example, listening to a sales pitch. We can't always take every sales pitch at face value. You have to listen to what said, but also what is not said. In fact, I was on a phone call just the other day, and the person started just catching up with me socially because I happen to know them as a friend. And then midway through, he or she switched over to talk a little bit about business. They had some questions involving some of my videos, and my business essentially became a more professional conversation. They were they were making a request, so I had to listen more carefully, more critically at that point because I wanted to make a good decision. So I just switch from empathetic listening and just catching up as a friend to critical listening. This course emphasizes the 1st 3 types of listening, because as a leader you will constantly be bouncing back and forth between comprehensive listening, empathetic listening and critic listening throughout a day and even in the very same conversation. But the fourth type of listening is also important in its own way. It's called appreciative listening. This is where we're listening for pleasure or some other personal benefit. We do this when we're listening to music or an inspirational speaker, or perhaps an entertaining story. This is still a really helpful way to listen, especially when you, as a leader, want to recharge your batteries. We won't really be emphasizing this type of listening the course, but we will cover it a bit more later. So not all listening is the same. Each type requires additional skills as mentioned. The key point of this lesson is that as a leader, you need to be able to pivot among the 1st 3 types of listening throughout a day, and even throughout the very same conversation coming up, we'll dive deeper into the types of listening and get actual practice in real time in the upcoming lessons 5. Comprehensive Listening Skills: in this lesson, Let's take a deeper look at comprehensive listening. I'm going to be sharing an experience I had at work with some great comprehensive listeners , a group off architects in terms of definitions, comprehensive listening is sometimes called informational listening, like listening for information. Sometimes it's called discriminative listening. That means listening to sort things out. Essentially, though, listening comprehensively means listening to learn to accurately interpret, understand and learn what a communicator is expressing, listening to comprehend, just as it sounds, but often listening this way so that we can then take some action after we have listened very carefully when were in school as students, we do this all the time. We're there to learn when we're learning how to do something or listening about current events were listening comprehensively and really everyday situations. As a professional, you are there listening to learn now, as a leader, what should you be listening for? So to keep it simple, I like to think in terms of what I'm listening to a client or a potential client. I am listening very carefully to learn so that I could be a better business person, a better leader in that interaction. So I listen for three key areas When I'm listening to a client. First I immersed myself in their world. So in other words, I try to learn all about life in their organization and their business and how their processes work. So that way I understand their context. The second thing I listen for is listening for the people and the relationships involved. So who are the relevant people that I will be dealing with? What are their roles, where there job titles and then what? The relationships like what the structures like, What are the dynamics like? I don't want to know how people are getting along and whose interacting with whom to do my job more effectively. And then third, I listen for the problems. What issues are they struggling with? As a professional, you're often there to help people solve their problems. So what are they complaining about is an expression what's keeping them up at night? I like to listen to these three areas so that I can do my job better as a leader, and I can help them when they are my client. So recently we had some outside architects come into the college where I teach college and they're going to help us redesign the building. And they listened to us very carefully in these three ways. First, they listen to our world they listen to. What is our building like on campus? What role does it play and how does it function in the broader campus and college context? Second, they listen very carefully to learn about the relationships. They're different departments that work in the same building. What are those relationships like? And then, of course, our problems. What were some of the key problems with the old building that we wanted to see fixed when they did the renovation? So this architectural firm really did listen for these three main areas was very obvious. So how do we actually do this in the moment? What is comprehensive look like and sound like when people are doing it well, there are two overall steps to comprehensive listening. The first step is to gather and interpret information. This means first you want to listen for the big picture idea the big picture point, then listen for the details. Now listening to the details too closely is a huge barrier to communication. So I was like to start by trying to understand the big picture. What's really going on here? What are the main issues? And then on that foundation you can build in more off the details. The key way for me to do this is I like to take notes and I recommend you do this. I take notes still on paper when I use the device. Even if I'm doing work on my device, it sends a mixed signal to the people around me. So I get out paper and I start mapping out what Mike, the communicator in front of me is saying I map out the main idea. So first I try to get the main idea, and then I boil it down to some of those sub points finally, details. And of course, any action steps that I need to take based upon what I have heard. And I have my system that I use and you can create whatever written system you want to listen comprehensively to create a map. And the architects that came in listen to our different faculty department certainly did this. They wrote down everything. They were listening very carefully and they gathered and interpreted that information to the best of their ability. The second part too comprehensive listening is responding in a way that shows you are following along. So if somebody doesn't respond and maybe someone has done this to you, you talk to them and they don't react. They don't respond. You can't really tell if they're listening. In fact, it seems like they're not listening. So you have to make sure if you're a good listener, you're responding in a way that shows that you are listening. One of the key ways to do this is to ask questions, and you do this to gather more information to continue the conversation to clarify your understanding. The architects that came to listen to us certainly did that. They asked a lot lots of follow up questions, especially about faculty research lab space, because classrooms are pretty ordinary. But faculty lab space has to be customized, so they asked lots of questions to hear us out on that. The other way you can show your following long is to pitch back, and this is where you concisely summarise what you have heard. The communicators say this shows them that you do in fact understand and that you're following along. And the architects did this as well. They summarize back to us what they believed our needs were. The third way to do this is to follow up, really to take action. This is the gold standard of listening. If you don't follow up. Even if you heard the person, even if you were listening, they'll say, Well, he doesn't listen. So hey, did he end up doing that? Now? He won't listen. Have you heard people say that That means that you're not taking action based upon what people thought the conversation was about? So in your next interaction, you want to revisit the issue. You want to let people know what has happened since that last conversation, what action has taken place. And the architect certainly did this as well. They came back in our second meeting with drawings that represented the needs that we expressed in our first meetings. So we'll see what ends up happening with our new building and if we get what we want. But so far they are. Those architects are doing a really good job at comprehensive listening and just like they did. First you want to listen to the big picture, and to do that you gather information as accurately as you can be by taking notes. And then, of course, you respond to show that you are listening and could do that by following the tips that we've talked about in this video. So if you do it well, comprehensive listening allows you then to take action, it sets you up for your next steps. 6. Let's Practice Comprehensive Listening: So let's practice your comprehensive listening skills. Your goal in this lesson is to listen for the big picture that I'm making. So Step one is to gather information. Step two is to respond in a way that shows you're listening, and there are more details than that to comprehensive listening. But for this practice, we're going to boil it way down and simplify to the basics. So here are your instructions. I'm going to talk to you is if I'm a client, will call this client meeting, and you're going to take in what I'm saying. Gather information. And when I stop talking, you'll summarize back to me what I said, and we'll do this in phases. Three steps. So the first time I'll say about a sentence, and then you'll boil that sentence down to two key words. Now, remember, I am your client. So here's our round one. I'm looking for a new logo for my company. Feel free to pause the video as you think of the two word summary that you can boil my message down to. So I would summarize this into two words by saying new logo or possibly company logo. So if you were close to that two word summary than you are on the right track. So we're going to continue with this scenario, and this time I'm going to add a couple more sentences to my message, and your job this time is to boil it down to just 4 to 6 words that summarize the heart of my message. I'm looking for a new logo for my company. I want to have a graphic logo and Icahn, not just text based with words again, Feel free to pause the video to come up with your 4 to 6 word summary of my message. If you said something like new logo graphic, not just text, then you are on the right track. So in this next step, I'll give you now my full message. I'll add some more detail to it, and it's your job to summarize everything that I have said down into one concise summary. A bottom line, the kind of sentence you might pitch back to me if we were in an actual conversation. I'm looking for a new logo for my company. I want to have a graphic logo, an icon, not just text based with words. I wanted to be sleek and simple and just one or two colors, so it looks good printed on T shirts or mugs. Feel free to pause the video to pitch back to me. What you think I'm saying, really? Boil it down to one short sentence, the kind of short sentence you might say back to me if I were your clients. Here's how I would pitch that back. So it sounds like you want a new graphic logo, not just text, and you want it just one or two colors. Now your style may vary. You might not say it exactly like that, but the point is to take a big message and squeeze it down to its essence and summarize it so that you can really see if you're comprehending that message and then pitch it back to the other person. So let's do that again. Will do. Scenario Number two will call this employee question, so this time I'm your employees and you are my direct supervisor and we'll break it down into three phases in the first phase. I'll say about a sentence, and I want you to summarize what I've said into just two key words, Boss, I need your advice. And you may want to pause the video as you come up with your two word summary of what I have just said. If he said something like need advice, then you're on the right track. You heard the heart of my message. So in round two, I will say a little bit more. And this time I want you to summarize what you've heard me say into just 4 to 6 words. Boss, I need your advice. Ah, customer has $1000 credit on her account with us again. You can pause the video as you come up with your 4 to 6 word summary. I would summarize this as need advice about customer credit. If you came up with something like that again, you are on the right track. So in round three, I want you to summarise my full message into one concise bottom line sentence. The kind of sentence you might actually pitch back to me if we were in a real life conversation. Boss, I need your advice. A customer has $1000 credit on her account with us. She wants to know if she can use that money for a totally different type of product than she originally ordered. Is that the kind of thing? Weaken Dio? You may want to pause the video here as you summarize what I've said into one sentence that essentially pitches back to me. What I've said in a natural way, here's how I would summarize it. So the issue is that she wants to use her credit for a different product than she originally ordered. Right now, your style, the way you talk me differ than the way I talk and pitch it back. But essentially again, we're trying to take a bigger message with more detail and squeeze it dumb to its essence. So the weekend pitch back that message and they know that we're following along. And, of course, we've oversimplified this process to get some quick practice here. If this were a real life situation, we would still follow the same overall two steps, but we would add a lot more detail to this. So, for example, when we're gathering information, we would certainly want to take notes, especially if this were a long conversation. We would map it out separating the man ideas from the details to any action steps that we would need to take and then where were responding. We're going to do it with a lot more detail as well, Like we would ask questions to go back and forth to clarify understanding. Then we'd pitch back our summary and of course, in the next conversation, or so we would follow up. We would take action on what we've heard, so they know that we were paying attention and listening all along in terms of your next steps. I think you should get some practice immediately at this. So look at your calendar and see when your next meeting is, and I would recommend picking an easy meeting to practice that. So when other people are talking at this meeting, start to take notes like this, like we've been saying And if it's appropriate in this meeting, responds by asking questions or smoothly summarizing what you have heard in that meeting practice essentially every chance you get. And just by listening this way, you'll almost instantly become more effective and come across as more of a leader 7. Empathetic Listening Skills: let's get into some detail about empathetic listening to get at this issue. I will be sharing about a really situation. I once had a huge setback at work, and my co worker listened with empathy, and it really did help me move forward. So empathetic listening is listening to understand the other person's emotions. When we listen empathetically, we listen to connect with people, to identify with them and to feel compassion. We're listening really to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. We might normally think of this as the way a counselor or a caring friend would listen to us when we're talking about our lives. But empathizing is not always about listening to problems. Sometimes people just have something on their mind, and they need somebody to listen to them. They need to get their thoughts and their feelings out. And once they say it out loud, often times that can be helpful on its own. And those could be negative feelings and thoughts or positive feelings and thoughts. So we can also celebrate successes by empathizing with people by feeling those positive emotions which I'll explain more. But empathy is an important skill for leaders because people aren't robots were well rounded. Our employees, our clients often will come to us with their feelings about their projects. And we have to know how to handle those conversations when they dio. And by the way, it's totally normal. If this type of listening stretches you out of your comfort zone, that's really common. Many of us did not grow up fluently speaking about our emotions or hearing and processing other people's emotions. But I assure you that, like anything, you will get better at this with some practice. So how do we listen with empathy? Well, there are a few major steps to this. The first step is listening for the big picture emotion when we're listening comprehensively. We're listening for the big picture idea. When we're listening for the emotion, we're listening for the big picture emotion. So what are they struggling with? What problems are they facing? Are the unmotivated, angry, disappointed, burned out? Don't worry so much about all the little details of the situation. Typically, the person will be telling you a story of giving you an example of something that's going on. And as you follow along, look for that big picture. What emotion is it sparking for them? And then you'll learn the details as you go. So with a client or employees, you really want to listen for the root issue, not just a surface level situation. If you really want to empathize you and solve their problem, you have to get down to the bottom of it. And this is where you would say little words like Ah ha! I see. Yeah, thes little utterances make it clear that you are in fact, following along. In fact, I would say that about 90% of listening empathetically looks and sounds like this in the moment. Good eye contact, nodding and saying things like, Aha! I hear you. So, years ago, I came to a friend at work with a problem. I had a huge setback. It felt devastating. At the time I was turned down for a big opportunity. Somebody above me was in some trouble of their own, and it seemed to me that they were starting to take it out on other people. I was one of those people, so I heard a huge no when it really should have been an easy yes to something that I was up for and my friend was listening to me and he was communicating these little utterances so that I could tell he was following along. Ah ha, yeah, I see. Okay. And then toward the end of my talking turn, he said something like, I'm sure this is a huge disappointment. I can imagine you This must be really hard for you. I think you are really deserving of this opportunity. And so he followed step one. Really well. He accurately understood the big picture emotion that I was feeling. I felt disappointed. So the next step is to ask questions and you want to first ask yourself questions like, What is going on in this issue? How are they feeling? What's the root cause of this for them and then ask them questions to draw them out. Question and answer is a great listening technique. So ask them what else? Tell me more what is at the root of this issue for you. This shows that you're interested. You're following along, and it will help you as a listener get to the bottom of it. And I'm sure that my friend was following along because of the questions? He asked. He said, What do you think was going on with that person in this conversation? He also asked, Could you sense anything more about what was bothering them? So he was asking questions, and drawing me out on this showed again that he was listening very carefully. Third, respond in a way that shows your empathy that reflects back the emotion that the other person is feeling. So this is where you hear people say things like, I hear you. That's frustrating. That's rough. I know what that's like. I've been there myself. You might even give a very short example of a time you were there yourself. But keep it short because you're in listening mode of my friend did this, by the way, he said, Wow, I'm really surprised by this. This sounds incredibly unfair to you. And he said it with genuine emotion. You know, this has to be genuine when you're listening with empathy, and it will be if you're really putting yourself in their shoes. So importantly, I want to add a little more here. Empathy for leaders is not always about listening to people's problems. A good leader will listen for success is to, and that's a huge opportunity to celebrate people's successes by entering the emotional high point with them. So if they're getting good news, share that joy with them and empathize in that way. And by the way, my friend is equally good celebrating good news. But I do know some people who are not. I've gone to people told them good news, and it's like they don't know what to do with the information, and they start competing with me and sharing their good news really quickly. It's like, Yes, okay, we'll get to your good news in a moment. But first, pause, empathize. Celebrate this moment, Say to them, That's awesome. Wow, Congratulations. Tell me more. I want to hear all about it. And then once you've really empathize and go all the way through that, then it will be your turn to talk and tell your story later. Remember, were working on listening, and that means keeping the focus on the other person for a while. So Step three is to show your empathy. Step four is to offer to help just offer. So, in other words, taking action. That's usually the gold standard and my friend did this. He said, Is there anything I can do to help you with this? So he crushed all four parts of this process and I felt really supported. It helped me move forward because I knew that somebody close to me professionally understood what I was going through. So other responses might be How can I help and let me know if there's anything I can do? And you may want to offer help like this if you're listening empathetically now. On the other hand, sometimes people just need you to listen. They just need you to be there, and you may not need to take any action. So few sense that that's what's going on, that they just need to vent a little bit. Don't be in a rush to go in and solve their problem for them. They may arrive at their own solution and move forward just because you were there to listen for them. And so I like the way my friend phrase this, he said, Is there anything I can do to support you? He asked. He wasn't pushing, and really, in that moment I didn't need anything from him directly just his listening. Just being there really was the best help that he could offer me at that point. So these are the key steps. Tow listening with empathy. If listening like this stretches you out of your comfort zone, that is mainly because it's unfamiliar territory. But you don't have to be an expert counselor to listen with empathy. Virtually any level of empathy will help just commit to practicing and you will get better at it, and you'll have lots of opportunity to listen like this in life. 8. Let's Practice Empathetic Listening: in this lesson, we're going to practice listening with empathy as a reminder. Step one is to listen for the big picture emotion. Are they happy? Sad, frustrated, burned out. Step two is to reflect back that emotion so that we know we are listening. That was a bit more to it than that, as I explained in the last video. But we'll start at the foundation here to practice, so we're going to practice the same way we did for a comprehensive listening. I'll talk and you'll reflect back what I said in one concise summary. Essentially, you'll be identifying the emotion that you hear me expressing and keep in mind. It can be very difficult to name specific emotions. Most of us are not good at this at first, mainly because people don't typically come right out and say, I'm sad. I'm angry. It's usually not that obvious. Usually people will show their emotions, but with other words, like I feel stretched thin or I feel taken advantage of expressions are loaded with emotion . So listen for phrases like that in what I say to you, and sometimes people just nonverbally show their emotions, but here will stick to a scenario, and we'll call this first scenario fellow leader. So in this situation picture that the person you're listening to is another leader or business owner like you. Imagine that you already know them and they're talking to you and you're at the same level of them, so there's no power difference here. So again, scenario one is fellow leader and we'll do three rounds of this the first round. I'll say a couple of sentences and you're going to boil down everything I say into just one word. Essentially, you'll name the key emotion that I'm feeling and expressing in my message. I'm really frustrated with my schedule. I have no time to think so. If you'd like to pause the video to summarize that emotion, go ahead. If you said something like frustrated, stressed those air good summaries of what I'm feeling right now. And like I said, sometimes it's hard to name an emotion, and you might be tempted to name the content or talk about a tight schedule or not enough time. Those air easier to talk about because those are more concrete. So if you're having trouble coming up with the word like frustrated, which I think gets at the more emotional side to this message. Then you may want to go back and listen to see how a word like Frustrated gets closer to putting yourself in my shoes. So in Round two this time, we'll add a little bit more to the message. It's the same message. I'll just add more detail. And your job is to summarize the emotion of what I'm feeling in just three words total. I'm really frustrated with my schedule. I have no time to think. I'm currently on five projects. I really do like them all. I'm just spread way too thin, and it's exhausting me so you can pause a video if you'd like and come up with a three word summary of the emotions that I'm feeling. If you said anything like frustrated and exhausted, you're on the right track. I think feeling over committed or spread too thin is also a way to summarize the core of what I'm feeling now. Round three. The instructions Again. I'll add more detail, and this time I want you to boil everything down. I'm saying into one concise sentence that shows you have put yourself in my shoes. You wanna pitch back Essentially the emotion you hear me expressing. I'm really feeling frustrated with my schedule. I have no time to think. I'm currently on five projects. I really do like them all. I'm just spread way too thin, and it's exhausting me. I feel badly backing out of these because I said I do them. But now I just don't see how I can get them all done. So again, you may want to pause the video to come up with a one sentence summary that pitches back to me. What you feel me feeling. Here's my pitch back. It sounds like you're frustrated because you're over committed, exhausted and you don't know what to do about it. So I'm not sure how close yours came to that your style may vary the way you talk. May very, but be patient with yourself. If you're still having trouble getting to the core emotion, it doesn't come naturally for everybody. So let's try a second scenario. We'll call this one fitting in here. You're listening to appear there at the same level of you, and they're talking to you over lunch about an issue that they are experiencing so again, and round one, you'll boil down everything I say into one word that names the emotion that I am expressing . I'm not sure where I fit in here, and I feel isolated. Pause a video. If you like to come up with one emotional word that captures what I'm feeling, I think the key word here is isolated. That really gets at the heart of it. If you said something like alone or anything like that, that's also on target. So around two I will add more detail to this. And again, your job is to boil down everything I'm saying into three words. I'm not sure where I fit in here, and I feel isolated. I feel underappreciated, like the organization is overlooking what I have to offer and not taking advantage of my key strengths. Pause the video. If you'd like to come up with a three word summary, I think isolated and overlooked are three words. Here they make a lot of sense. You might also have not appreciated or no recognition those air summaries that get at the core emotions I'm feeling so around three, I'll add even more detail. Give you the complete message. And this time I want you to pitch back the emotions that you hear in my message in one concise sentence again, the kind of sentence you might actually say during an actual conversation. I'm not sure where I fit in here, and I feel isolated. I feel underappreciated, like the organization is overlooking what I have to offer and not taking advantage of my key strengths. Nobody knows what to do with me. It's really discouraging, and I feel like I have a lot more to offer. If you like to pause the video as you come up with one concise sentence, go ahead. So here's how I would pitch back this emotion. It sounds like you feel isolated and discourage and that people don't see all you have to offer. How does your summary compare? Now? Styles may differ, and the way you say it might be different, But at least you're putting yourself in my shoes and feeling what I'm feeling. And if your summary captures that, then you're on the right track. So listening for emotions can feel a little bit like the other person is talking in a foreign language. It does not come naturally to all of us at first, but you can get better with practice. And here we've really just taken the first step in. If this were alive interaction. You'd add to this by showing that you're listening with good nonverbals like Uh huh, okay, You'd ask questions to draw the other person out, like Tell me more. You'd show your empathy by responding like that. Sounds hard and you might even offer to help if that seems appropriate. Like, is there anything I can do to help now, in terms of next steps, look for an opportunity and the next day or so to listen with empathy? It's great to listen this way to clients and two employees. You might want to start, though, with a family member or friend that is right around you. That's a great place to practice. They'll appreciate it, and it'll help you get better at the skill. And remember, when you listen empathetically, listen completely 9. Critical Listening Skills: Let's look at critical listening and more depth for this lesson. We're going to be looking at a situation where my friends organization was routinely getting told they should upgrade to a new computer system. And I'll tell you how critical listening helped them make a good decision. So critical listening is listening to evaluate to critique now, this doesn't mean you pick a fight. It doesn't mean you come across as unlikable. It means you listen analytically to get a firm hold on the strengths and the weaknesses of an issue. So for leaders, critical listening is one of the best ways to make good decisions to have better judgment about the information that you are listening to. So listening critically means you look at an issue from multiple angles to get a more complete picture and understanding off the pros and the cons so critical is things should ultimately make you a better problem solver, which is a really key leadership skill. If you're a leader, your employees, colleagues, other organizations are going to constantly be pitching you their ideas and asking for resource is and money like my friend. He worked at a company and they use an extremely old computer system to run a specific aspect of the company as certain people of the company at the organization were in favor of purchasing a new computer system. Well, as a leader, you don't want to get caught up in other people's priorities and hype. You can't say yes to every request. You can't pay for everything. You don't have time to commit to every opportunity. And even if you hear a good idea, it may not be the best decision you can make as a leader. That's were critical. Listening comes and you have to separate the good ideas from the great ideas. And so what is critical listening look like? In the moment, there are three overlapping aspects that I'd like to go into detail about. Part one comes down to good dialogue, good back and forth exchange with the person sharing the message. So once you've listened to the main message, you start a back and forth conversation where you explore the idea from all of its angles so that you can make a more informed decision. Now Part two or peace to of this is ask good questions. Good questions drive a dynamic back and forth conversation. So ask questions that clarify that dig down deeper into the details and test the message. Part three is the use of mental models. This is where the best listeners stand apart from everybody else. You want to use a mental model or an analytical tool to structure your thinking and the conversation so you're not improvising each time you're listening like this. In most cases, leaders have a framework in mind that is driving their conversation. So let's look at it an example message. And consider the types of mental models that you can use to drive a conversation. So the example is the one that my friend kept hearing over and over again. You should upgrade to a new computer system. So as we look at this message, we will consider three overlapping mental models on the first mental model is knowing your priorities? Does the decision line up with your top priorities? Most sales pitches will supply the priority for you, and you have to be very careful. They'll say bigger is better or you have to have the latest version, and so you have to be really clear on your priorities. So that you don't get swept away. But what by what they want And then you measure the information against your priorities. Does this decision move your top priority, forward or not? And as I'm looking at priorities, I like to use the need tohave versus nice toe have measure this scale when it comes to my priorities. So are we in a need to have situation, or is this just nice to have? It might be nice to have. It might even align with what we generally want in some ways. But is it a need to have? Is it a deal breaker? If we don't do it, you have to get very clear on this. And my friends company looked at the computer system issue and decided that, well, they needed a computer system. They were yet convinced that they needed to replace the old one. So was it Nice toe. Have a new system? Yes. Do they need to replace the old system? They weren't sure yet. So getting clear on the company's priorities help contain what you might call their personal priorities like, Well, we'll upgrade our phone. We all want our newest personal computers in our own lives. But those personal tendencies and priorities could cloud a business decision if they didn't get really clear on what the company's priorities were and what they needed to have. Verse. What what was Nice toe have? And that was their measuring stick. Another simple mental model is looking at the pros and the cons of an issue, so you would do what's called a cost benefit analysis. You just make a simple teach art, and on one side of the issue, you list all the rewards, the positives, the benefits. On the other side of the teacher, you list all the concerns, costs, downsides and disadvantages. So yes, as your in your back and forth conversation. Obviously, you want to get a firm grasp on all the benefits, but you also politely play the devil's Advocate, and you look at the potential problems of a situation. The person that's pitching you are making a request will generally not tell you the downsides. And so critical listening means listening for those downsides. My friend's company did a cost benefit analysis, and the costs off a new system obviously outweighed the reward, so they decided to keep the old computer system. It was old, yes, but it was reliable. It did the job. It costs them nothing because it was already paid for it. It worked fine. So why replace it? And the third mental model is ask about what's not being said. What are the motivations of the person that's communicating with you? Are they working on commission? What's in it for them? Is this a self serving pitch? In other words, where they get something or is a mutual benefit in their message? Also, does anything seem out of place? Is there something off that you can't quite put your finger on? In some ways, you have to follow your intuition and ask questions that dig a little deeper into what is not being set. And in my friend's case, there was no hidden agenda. Nobody was working on commission. Some people, the company just really wanted a new computer system. But you, as a leader will very likely face situations daily, where you have to dig a little deeper and look into an issue to see if there's more going on than is obvious on the surface. So you have to turn over some rocks and ask questions about what's not being said. Critical listening is next level listening. It can feel overwhelming. There's a lot to pay attention to. But it's best to stop by clarifying those priorities, making a teacher and ask about what's not being said and do it in that order. And remember, just because you're listening in this analytical way, it doesn't mean that you treat people unkindly or in a hostile way at all. In fact, as a leader, you have to set a collaborative tone in a way that will preserve the relationship. Even if you don't decide to agree with a person who is communicating with you, you have to act professionally. You never know what the future holds. So above all, you want to be kind when listening critically. 10. Let's Practice Critical Listening: in this lesson, we're going to practice critical listening. That means we're listening with mental models in minds, and the mental models will use our knowing your top priorities especially need to have versus Nice to have. We'll make a T chart and then we'll listen for what is unsaid in the initial measures that we're hearing. And I'm going to share a message and you are going to go through these three steps and pick apart the message to see if you can make a better decision. So I'll give you a scenario and we'll practice are critical. Listening as we go, and to do so, we'll look at a hiring scenario. So let's say you're an entrepreneur and you're thinking about hiring some part time help so you can grow your business. Put yourself in this situation and let's say you're already working as a solo creative entrepreneur. You're making some money, but now you want to expand and you're spending too much time doing task that somebody else could do task that don't tap into your core strengths. So you're wondering if you should hire a virtual assistant or somebody you know to do part time work for you, so you can grow. But let's turn this into a message where we're listening to somebody. So imagine you're having lunch with a friend who is also a creative entrepreneur like you. And here she says to you the following message. You know, you really should hire a part time employee or a virtual assistant. They don't cost that much, and it would free up some of your time. I hired somebody last year, and it really helped me grow. So in a moment will pause the video and you can answer questions like this. Does this message lineup with my top priorities as entrepreneur? And so put yourself in this situation if you could, do you want to grow? Or are you satisfied with your current level of business and is hiring a part time employee align with your long term goals? Is hiring somebody and need to do priority or nice to do priority so you can pause the video and answer these questions now so clear priorities will really help you listen critically because you can sort things out when you listen this way. Here are my answers. Yes, I want to grow Yes, hiring aligns with my long term goals in terms of need vs Nice. I'm not so sure I want to hire. Somebody might be nice to do but to decide if it's need to do. I have to look into this a little bit further. And if this were a life situation, you could ask questions because, ah, good dialogue is a key part of critical listening. For example, I'd like to know how much it might cost. For example, toe hire a part time employee. What's the going rate of a virtual assistance? Ah, but since this is not live, will go to the next step. So the next step is where we look at the advantages and disadvantages of hiring somebody to critically think through this. So let's do it. Teach art of the pros and the cons and feel free to pause the video and make a list of the potential benefits versus the potential costs that you see in hiring a part time person so you can pause a video and make that teach art now. So here's my teach art. My cost benefit analysis on the pros side free time from, or creating increased productivity and it could lead to more revenue, so hiring somebody could work out on the other side on the cons. It will cut into profits temporarily because I have to pay somebody. Managing somebody else takes time, and it will require more of my leadership skills. So I have to develop those. Now when you look at your list you had may have other pros and cons, but as long as you're doing even a basic cost benefit analysis, that's a great starting place to listen critically. And a mental model like this, like a teach are really will help enhance almost instantly your critical listening and critical thinking. So question three. What's not being said yet? How can you make sure you've explored this issue further? So let's say you have one question that you could ask that hasn't been answered yet. What would that be So positive? You if you'd like and think of a question that we haven't talked about yet. For me in terms of what's not being said yet, I do have a question like what? Among their options to grow besides hiring a person, for example, could I find ah, service out there that will do this work for me much more quickly than me hiring and working with a part time employee. Also, if this were a real conversation, you'd probably want to find out if there's a hidden agenda going on. And for this situation, it doesn't sound like it to me. This person's giving you advice based upon what's worked for them, but in real life you can't make this assumption. You should really look at a message from all possible angles. Now all the types of listening this analytical, critical type of listening really will help you improve your leadership skills when you listen. This way, people will start to see you as adding extra value to any discussion. And remember, the whole conversation can be done in a supportive, collaborative tone. And if you do it in this respectful way, everybody will see the dialogue as helpful in terms of next steps. I like to practice by watching advertisements on essentially anything. So let's say you're watching a show and a commercial comes on. Just start picking apart the message using these tools. Does the product help me with my priorities? Is it need to have our nice tohave you can do a quick cost benefit analysis and ask about anything that is not yet being said in that message. So practice listening to messages like this, and in no time you'll be a much better critical listener. 11. Appreciative Listening: metaphorically speaking, we all need a little more music in our lives in the same way that our eyes enjoy, say, a beautiful mountain. Our ears also could bring us a lot of enjoyment as well. And so appreciative listening is listening for enjoyment, inspiration, entertainment or really any information that gives us that intangible value. And in a moment, I'll explain how I see this connecting to the life of a leader. But first I want to tell you about my mother. A few years ago, she moved her audio system into the main living area of her home. She had it in her bedroom, but then she realized for most of the day she was in the kitchen or the living area. She wasn't in the bedroom, and so she just wasn't listening. Too much music. Now she really enjoys music. It puts her in a good mood, like a lot of us. It transports her and put her in that moment of, ah, moment of enjoyment. And really, that's the essence of appreciative listening, enjoyment, inspiration, entertainment or helpful information. And she needs that escape at work. She was once supervising over 60 full time employees. She has a really busy home life. She had a lot of responsibilities at the time. So for leaders, I see appreciative, listening as a type of free therapy for our souls, if you will. Leaders are under a lot of stress, and the other types of listening certainly help us and help others. But appreciative listening is 100% for us personally. I listen to Christian worship music to inspire me. Some people like to listen to poetry in the same way because it inspires them. I like to listen to comedians or funny story is whether there really funny or just lightly entertaining. That really helps. I listen to some professional speakers for inspiration or some podcast just for enjoyment. Appreciate listening is a great way to recharge your emotional batteries. So how can you add more appreciative listening to your day? When can you put on some music or listen to an inspirational speaker podcast? Maybe some of your favorite comedians, for example, And when you're interacting with friends, take some time to simply enjoy people Stories take delight in what you hear. Be quick to laugh as they say. Listening like this can really be very therapeutic and add that spark to your life. Appreciative listening reminds us that life is not all about work. Our ears were also made for our enjoyment and metaphorically. We all need a little more music in our lives. 12. Next Steps: Putting it Into Practice: congratulations. You've made it to the end of the course. Let's talk about some next steps. And first I want to summarize how far you've come. We started by looking at the different listening barriers that you may be personally experiencing. We also looked at the non verbal communication skills that go along with good listening, and we've explored the four types of listening that you will be using most as a leader. But the key to all of this content is obviously to put it into practice. So here is your class project. It has two parts, and you can download the available worksheet to use to structure this project if you like. The first part is to write a comment about what you struggled with in the practice. Video is the most what was hardest for you to grasp. Take note of that and use the tips to fix that aspect of your listening. The second part. I want you to create a specific written listening plan based upon the course lessons. Essentially, you'll create a cheat sheet to help you solidify the course content in a way that boils those tips down to their essence. The tips that were most helpful to you and then put them into practice in your next conversation. So in the listening plan, you'll answer the four following questions. When is your next important meeting or interaction? Who will you be interacting with and listening to? What is your specific listening goal for that interaction and what tips from the course will you put into practice to meet that specific listening goal? Feel free to do this project on your own, and if you like, you can download the worksheet, fill it out and uploaded as a course project. It has been my genuine pleasure to teach you. In this course. Feel free to take a look at my other courses. God bless, and I hope to see you again soon.