We hear a lot of voices as leaders from family, friends and lead team members… to casual acquaintances and even complete strangers. The question is whether or not we are truly listening. Consider this simple acronym to help you listen intently… LEAN.
L – Lean in. Our posture is a dead give-a-way concerning our interest level. Lean slightly forward towards the person who is speaking to you. No, don’t be a “close talker.” However, show them that they are valued by the way you listen with your whole person.
E – Someone has said, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” Look people in the eye and avoid wandering elsewhere with your attention. While this isn’t a “staring contest,” the connection you make as you listen with your eyes will say volumes without you saying a word.
A – Ask open-ended questions. As a matter of fact, make a pact with yourself to ask others at least two prompting or probing questions before sharing from your vast knowledge base. You may just learn something new about them, your topic… or yourself.
N – Names matter. Call them by name throughout the conversation. Did they mention an important person, place or subject? Repeat these in both your inquiries and your input. This will not only relay to them that they were heard, but serve to imprint the conversation deeper into your gray matter. Your level of recall the next time you meet with them and/or need the information will increase dramatically.
BONUS – Avoid rehearsing what you are going to say next. This will become obvious as your posture gives your disinterest away, you stare right past them, or completely zone out and miss what they are saying altogether. (My family has called me on this one in the past more than I care to admit!) Your clever response may not turn out to be so clever after all.
Proverbs 1:5 reminds us, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” I have to work at listening “LEAN.” My “Type A” personality has often gotten me an “F” in listening. This leaves the wrong impression concerning the worth of the person speaking and what they have to say. Don’t miss opportunities to “get guidance” that we all need to become better servant leaders.
Give it a try. Practice the listen “LEAN” in your next conversation.