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"If you fail to listen to those around you, you will soon be surrounded by people who have nothing important to say."

Read this one more time and let it sink in.

I Thought I was a Good Leader

Several years ago I was working through a tough change with my co-workers. I was spending a lot of time in meetings with them trying to solve many problems. I was working to help them reorganize so we could become a stronger team.

I was doing all the things I thought good leaders do. I checked on them regularly and tried to be encouraging. I often talked to different members of the team to see how they were doing. I was working long and hard, giving them all I had. I thought I was doing a great job.

During one of our meetings, a great leader on my team said, "I don't feel like you listen to me." What? All I had been doing was listening! Did she know how hard I had been working for her and the rest of the team?

Listening Problems

What she told me that day had a great impact. I was giving the team a lot of time, asking for their input, but I was not really listening. There were three problems:

  • My body language showed that I was not listening carefully.
  • I had failed to follow up on some of the things my co-workers told me.
  • The look on my face showed I was already mentally moving on to the next thing.

I thought I was doing everything good leaders do. But what I learned was that really good leaders listen well.

If you are a good listener, you will enjoy several important benefits:

  • You will learn how people feel.
  • You will show that you value what people say.
  • You will learn things you did not know.
  • You will gain a bigger understanding of the situation.
  • You will benefit from the wisdom of others.
  • You will create better solutions as a team than by yourself.
  • You will attract great leaders to your team.

Tips to be a Good Listener

Great leaders stay where they are heard! If you want to attract and keep great leaders, be a good listener:

  • Ask good questions.
  • Take notes.
  • Clarify by repeating back what you have heard.
  • Take action and follow through on what was discussed.
  • Do not multi-task or do other things when someone is talking to you.
  • Welcome and encourage opposing views.
  • Listen with your heart, not just your ears.
  • Listen to gain understanding, not just information.

Listening is an important skill every good leader must have. Be brave. Ask the people you work with how you are doing in this area. If you need to make changes, get serious and work on it. If you fail to listen, you could wake up one day to find you are surrounded by people with nothing important to say.

Listening and Healing

The ability to listen is an important part of business leadership, but it also an important part of being an effective doctor and health care worker. Many times healing requires the art of listening. If we expect patients to follow our advice and our medical leadership, we must learn to be good listeners.

Doctors and health care workers have a number of barriers to good listening. One of them is lack of time. If you have to see a patient every 15 or 20 minutes, you are always in a hurry. Feeling rushed is not helpful to good listening.

Listen First

However, using the first few minutes of time with patients to listen is often a good investment. You will establish trust that helps people feel comfortable sharing important information earlier in their visit. By listening well you might save time.

Understanding some communication basics may help us understand how patients see and hear us and how to get past barriers to effective listening. Communications experts have discovered interesting facts about how information travels from one person to another.

It is very difficult for many people, not just doctors, to be quiet and listen when we do not have a lot of time. Yet even when a doctor's time is extremely limited, a few techniques can go a long way toward showing patients that you care and that you are listening.

Show That You Care

If doctors and health care workers really want to hear what patients are saying, here are several recommendations:

  • Instead of standing while patients talk, try sitting so you are at the same level as they are.
  • Use good eye contact so patients see you are looking at them and listening to what they say.
  • Let people talk without interruption for a reasonable amount of time.
  • If you need to write notes during your discussion, be courteous and say 'Excuse me while I write this down.'
  • At the end of each visit, get into the habit of asking 'Do you have any other questions today?'

Good leaders are good listeners. These simple suggestions can really help with your ability to lead and influence patients. Listening well shows that you care and that you have time to hear peoples' concerns.

Use Your Leadership Skills

As a good leader, you will have many opportunities to gently influence people to stay away from or stop smoking. In the USA, almost 75% of smokers would like to quit, but they do not know how. If you gain peoples' trust and then listen carefully, you will hear their cry for help.

Share with Friends

I hope these ideas will help you become more effective in your health care career. I invite you to click the link beside this article to share our Leadership Club with five of your friends. Only as you tell others will our influence grow. Together we can make big changes in the culture of smoking.

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