I once had a boss who wouldn’t shut up. Actually, he wouldn’t listen which is why I remember him only talking.
It’s been 30 years now, but I still remember the guy. Cocky. Smart. Successful. But he couldn’t keep his best employees. I was a temporary worker filling in for one who recently left.
The reason for this is simple: He was overbearing, and domineering bosses are one of the major causes of workplace stress that cause employees to leave.
Listening shows that you value your employees’ input which builds trust and commitment. And by listening, you might actually learn something.
If you are a leader and inclined to talk too much, and listen too little, here’s what I suggest you do.
Buy two rolls of duct tape. That’s right. Duct tape. The brand doesn’t matter. Put one roll on your bathroom counter top and the other on your desk at work. Here's the roll I keep at home.
Why tape? Simple. It serves as a reminder to stop talking.
I learned this technique from my dear friend and relationship expert, Dr. Gary Oliver. It might seem a bit goofy, and it’s definitely not a magic bullet, but it is highly effective, having been used by thousands of leaders nationwide.
I call it the Duct Tape Rule. Here's how it works:
Each morning, set an intention that you will listen more than you talk and definitely not interrupt. The only way to become a better listener is to cultivate the practice of listening and it begins with a commitment to do so. This is where the countertop roll of tape comes in. As you prepare to leave the house, remind yourself to be open and non-judgmental, quick to hear and slower to speak.
Then at the office, before walking into a meeting or having a conversation with a client, colleague, or direct report, look at the roll on your desk. Remind yourself to stop, listen, and learn. This requires that we get out of our head and into our heart - to listen to learn, to understand deeply, not simply as a means to form a counter argument. Understand what the other person is saying and experiencing before offering your perspective.
Doing these two things - setting an intention each morning and reminding yourself throughout the day to listen more and speak less - will help you reprogram your brain to become a more effective leader. And perhaps most importantly, it will help you become a better husband, wife, mother, father, or friend.
This is the power of listening.