She asked to see me, but when she came in I wasn’t really paying attention. I had some papers in my hands and my computer beeped with an email. My eyes went to the screen and the papers sent a “make this quick” message to her. After several minutes, she got up and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“I’ll come back when you’ll pay attention.”
Then she disappeared down the hall.
Sadly, this is a true story—not one of my finest hours as a leader. The lady was one of the two or three best employees I ever had and she deserved a lot more respect than I was giving her that day. So another Hard Lesson went into the file to be remembered.
It has happened at home as well. I have learned—with too frequent relapses—that turning the TV sound off or putting down the paper makes a big difference in whether Dottie feels respected and valued or not. Another important part of respectful listening is eye contact. Roaming eyes give the appearance of inattention even when you are actually listening.
Listening is the most important tool in your communication toolbox. So remember:
Thanks, Diane, for teaching me a lesson when I needed it. It has been 20 years or so and I still remember.
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© Copyright 2015 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner