Listening is one of the best skills you can develop. Being a great listener can value your team while also encouraging creativity, new thinking and new ideas. 

In episode 5 we poked a little fun at the phrase of the year: “You’re on mute”

Even just that phrase still makes me smile a little bit honestly. I can picture the mouth moving and everyone scrambling to unmute themselves so that they can tell the muted one that they are, in fact, muted.

But today we’re going to talk about some ways that we might be actually muting others around us without realizing it.

Their mouths are moving but we’re not hearing anything. We’re not listening.

To me, one of the top skills you can have as a business leader is to be a good listener. And I don’t just mean someone that people talk to. I mean, someone that really listens.

To be a good listener means that you are approachable. It means that people know that you value them and what they have to share… even if it’s hard to hear.

Being a good listener isn’t asking for an opinion and then letting your team member speak while the whole time you’re secretly holding your own answer behind your back ready to pounce it on them.

Being a good listener is being curious. Being willing to acknowledge that you might be wrong, that you might not be able to see the whole picture.

I heard a great quote from Andy Stanley years back. He said that “leaders who don’t listen will soon be surrounded by people with nothing to say.”

I remember hearing that and having to think that one through again. But it is dead on and I’ve seen it happen.

If people don’t feel like their opinions and thoughts and ideas are truly valued, then eventually they might try to find a place where they are.

And then all that will be left are people who just repeat back what has been said before.

So, if you really want to not only help your business thrive but also to bring out the best in your team members, put in the work to become a better listener.

It may take time. And if your people haven’t been used to being asked for their ideas and really listened to, it may take some time for them to trust they this time it’s different.

Maybe you could start this week and invite a few members of your team in for a meeting with no agenda other than to just hear from them. Let them know that you want to honestly hear how things are going for them, what frustrations they have, struggles, roadblocks to success. 

Ask them what ideas they have about making things better… and let them finish, even if you don’t believe they are things you can do right now. That can come later, but you’ll miss out on so many great ideas and empowering your team if you shoot down ideas from the get go or if they feel like it’s not even worth sharing.

Every person on your team is asking this same question: “Can you hear me?… do you want to hear me?”

I believe your answer is yes, because you care about each one of them…  and you also want the business to grow as well.

So un-mute your team this week and let them speak what they’ve been dying to say… unless, of course that lawnmower is still blaring in the background…