Respect Others by Listening
Treating others with respect is a basic foundation for establishing positive relationships. Leaders show respect by giving others their undivided attention. They ask people for their ideas and really listen to what they have to say. This lets people know that they are genuinely interested in them and value their opinions. It makes people feel respected as worthwhile, competent individuals.
Being a good listener isn’t easy! It requires being mindfully attentive, setting aside whatever it is you are doing and giving your full attention to what the person is saying. Candace Matthews, chief marketing officer at Amway Corporation, attributes her ability to build relationships to following her mother’s example of making “every person she spoke to feel they were the most important person at that moment.”
It helps to use empathy. By putting yourself into someone else’s shoes you better understand their perspective, where they are coming from. Your body language is an important cue that you are listening. Leaning forward and making eye contact express interest and a desire to listen. Minimizing distractions is also critical. Show people you plan on giving them your full attention by putting away your papers, turning off the computer screen, and not answering the phone. Try to stay present with the conversation, don’t let your mind wander or start formulating your response while they are still talking.
When the person you are listening to finishes speaking, pause before you respond. As my friend Kellye says, “Listen to the silence at the end of people’s sentences.” Pausing shows that you believe that they have something to say that is worth waiting for. It also gives you a moment to prepare a mindful response. Now for extroverts like me that is easier said than done. Moments of awkward silence can seem like hours! Becoming a good listener requires a conscious effort and lots of practice. I still work at it every day!
How good are you at showing respect by giving others your undivided attention? Why not set a goal this week to really listen when someone is talking to you? It can do wonders for improving relationships!