Terri Hughes Blog

Stop Talking

Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Most of the leaders I coach freely admit they need to listen better (and more often!).  What I don’t hear is an admission of the need to talk less. So the first step is to recognize your own ‘talking’ and ‘telling’ behaviors with your team.

Gavin was a classic example of a leader who felt that strong directions were the best approach to get the job done.  He feared  his team would be unable to perform without his direction and lots of ‘telling’.

I asked him if he could stop talking in his next staff meeting and simply focus on listening to his team. He agreed and opened his staff meeting with a few issue-focused, open-ended questions. Then he listened. His staff members told him it was the best meeting they had ever had since they had an opportunity to discuss critical issues from their perspective.

It was an eye-opener for Gavin.  He began to listen to understand more clearly the issues and challenges, and allow his team to manage the work.   As he continued to build his listening skills, his team became more productive, and their results were better and more innovative.

Exercise to Try

  • For the next few weeks, track your ‘talking’ style and identify how much telling versus listening and asking that you do.  Especially track your talking behaviors in your meetings.  If you are doing all the talking, you have likely unconsciously trained your people to wait for your direction.  Encourage the team to participate in the discussion and come to the next meeting with possible solutions or next steps.

  • Try asking one or two important questions in your next staff meeting designed to open the group to discuss real and perhaps invisible or underlying issues that may be preventing desired results.  If your team is not used to being asked open-ended questions, ask them to think about your questions in advance of the meeting.

Keep in mind - just a few simple shifts can make a big difference!


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