How Effective Executives Listen



We have all had the experience of ‘being listened to’ in a variety of ways. Some are staring in another direction, some are fiddling with papers or rearranging their desk. The variations are many. Few feel truly present and absorbing what we are saying. Some are interjecting and speaking over us. Many just can’t resist offering their experience on the very thing we just said. Some just like the sound of their own voice better than ours.

If you relate to being one of these ‘listeners’, you may like to use this little trick that I try to use when I feel it is important to listen to another person. The acronym WAIT stands for Why Am I Talking. The ‘talking’ is use of my voice and use of my attention for anything other than truly listening to the speaker in front of me. When I check in with myself using this simple aid, it is pretty easy to notice when I am not listening, but rather trying to upstage the speaker, to counter their points, to grab more air time in the conversation, to avoid them hoping they will soon go away, many reasons that are not true listening.

When challenged with ‘why am I talking?’ I am on the carpet to justify my inattention to the human being in front of me. If I don’t have a valid reason, a reason that supports and encourages the speaker, I stop talking (including the many acts that signal inattention). And… re-start listening.

Try it. Easy enough criteria if I am honest with myself. Big payoff in respect and information gained when I challenge myself and act through the lens of W.A.I.T

Have fun