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4 ways to be a better colleague by listening radically

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” — Dalai Lama

According to Lainie Heneghan, Managing Director, JMW Worldwide UK Ltd, “If you are a business leader who needs to influence a broad and diverse set of stakeholders, consider this: The way you listen is just as important as the way you speak, perhaps even more so. Listening tends to be invisible, yet it has a more powerful presence than people sometimes realize. We may not always notice when it is present, but we almost always notice when it is not.”

In an impactful article recommended by UCOP Talent and Organization Development Manager Annie Prozan, Heneghan lays out her pointers for radical listening. Here are some key takeaways:

  1. If you’re not listening to your colleagues, chances are that they’re not listening to you either. Listening is a two-way street. For impactful connections and dialogue, all participants must respectfully listen and have an opportunity to contribute. Give people an opportunity to finish their sentences and fully say what they are trying to explain.
  2. It takes effort to master your own filters. Most people think they’re listening, but really, they are processing what another person is saying with their own thoughts. But really listening, with full concentration, is crucial for absorbing and processing what colleagues are saying. “Be aware of your own inner dialogue, and listen beyond it,” says Heneghan. “While filters are widely recognized as a necessary part of how we process information, if we don’t recognize them, they can have unseen impact.”
  3. Listen for what you can’t hear — for what people won’t normally tell you. One of the most important aspects of active listening is asking topical questions that reveal intention and capability. Consider what emotions or motivations may be behind a colleague’s words.
  4. Active, concentrated listening is what you need to get the buy-in you’re seeking. “When someone has been heard, they become free to engage in new ideas and new ways of thinking, and they become far more capable of coming around to a position of support,” Heneghan says. By showing colleagues that you care about their point of view, you are more likely to earn their respect and trust.

“When people have a true understanding of what the organization is endeavoring to do, and how they fit in, they can own their actions and results in a very powerful way,” says Heneghan.

Read Henegan’s full article here. And, check out these short LinkedIn Learning videos for more radical listening tips:

For questions about UCOP Learning and Development, contact

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