I was prompted to ask my wife which 2 behaviours needed refining in my life, because you can’t lead others where you are not prepared to go, and you shouldn’t coach what you are not prepared to practise.

Easy pickings for her as she simply looked up and said – listening! Piously hoping that she’d drop the second, she didn’t, and it came before I had processed ‘listening’ … and try not treat everything as black or white!

Hadn’t I taken a lesson in listening before? Guiltily I reminded myself that listening ability underpins quality conversations and is a vital interpersonal skill.

Back to the drawing board again, only this time with measurement and accountability. Like blood brothers, they work well together. Accountability to someone will help change their perception of your behaviour, especially when you slip up. It’s extremely important.

The art of listening 101. Never thought I would find myself here again. Knowing I needed to up my plan, I sought out the advice of affective listeners. I discovered that they knew there were two distinct components to listening – deliberative and empathetic.

Deliberate listening (Latin: ‘delibero’ – I weigh up, I balance) is concerned with information or facts, which the listener objectively tries to understand and analyse.

Empathetic listening involves placing yourself in another person’s shoes and understanding the situation from their point of view. No interpretation is required. Just experience someone else’s experiences.

We are all prone to listening challenges because having an open mind may be competing with our biases.

Skilled listeners are highly valued because they are good at retaining information and problem solving.

When a leader does not listen, they are soon surrounded by people who have nothing to say. (Andy Stanley) Ouch!

Message to myself – listen ‘carefully’ while listening to learn, before discerning a course of action.

Any message for yourself?

I am the author of Leading Self and Others (how to make a difference where you are with what you’ve got) and Teaming with ideas (life lessons in teams- from business, sport and parkrun). You can contact me here.