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By:  Mary Jo Asmus, Aspire Collaborative Services LLC

It seems so much of our lives are wrapped up in what we see with our eyes that we forget that what we hear is just as important – maybe more so.

Leaders can always listen more, and the quest to do so often becomes a goal for many of the leaders I work with, because feedback from their stakeholders has indicated this is needed. That’s a good reason to work on better listening, but there is another one that is important to you that you may not have considered:

The more you listen, the more you will be heard. And the more you are heard, the better your chances of influencing others.

Think about that for just a moment, because it makes a lot of sense. As a leader, influence is one of the most important tools you have. Without it, you aren’t leading. When you listen more, others:

Feel respected and when that happens, people will want to hear more from you. You might know this because you’ve had the experience of someone not listening to you. When you aren’t listened to, you feel disrespected and ignored while losing any connection or relationship you might have with those who should be listening. When your employees feel respected, it’s an acknowledgment of them that creates the environment that makes it more likely that they will hear you.

Clarify their stance as they think out loud. Not only do they want to be heard, they need to understand their own thinking better. When you listen to them, you allow them to gain clarity of thought. The good news for you is that when others get a chance to clarify their thoughts, you’ll gain valuable information about the person while understanding their thinking better. You’ll learn and become more knowledgeable, helping you to influence others better.

Can be influenced by you. Leadership is clearly about your ability to create the kind of relationships that will help you to impact and influence people. When you listen more, you are creating relationships based on respect. When people feel respected, acknowledged, and are gaining clarity of thought, you have a chance to influence them because they will be more open to hearing what you have to say.

Listening more has changed mediocre leaders into good-to-great who are heard. When you listen more, people are willing to hear you. And when they hear you they just might be willing to be influenced by you.