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Everybody Wants to be Heard


My mum would tell me “You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally.”

I thought she wanted me to be quiet, but it turns out she was right in the sense that listening is twice as important as speaking.


According to Michigan University, listening is 45% of our communication bandwidth.

We spend 70-80% of our waking hours in some form of communication. Of that time, we spend about 9 percent writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent speaking, and 45 percent listening.


This means leaders need to turn up the ear dials and be proficient in Active Listening.


In a school environment teachers can be confronted by disgruntled peers or parents with a negative emotional point of view. Picture the person seeing red and wants you to fix the problem. Your first instinct is to defend yourself with justification which then fuels the situation and turns a complaint into an argument. There will be no winners in this volley of words and emotions.


You need to build trust quickly so you can calm the farm and have an equitable conversation. Everyone wants to be heard. But just calling out loudly doesn’t cut the mustard. We want to be seen when we talk.


In his book, “Never Split the Difference”, FBI Hostage Negotiator, Chris Voss explains the first rule in negotiations is to actively listen. Chris’s job is to talk down kidnappers during a hostage situation in an effort to release the captives and surrender in the shortest time frame.


Active Listening is the quickest way to building trust. Being heard. Feeling like you belong.


Where does Active Listening start?

  1. Be present Turn down your world and tune into their world. Be there in body and mind.

  2. Be Acknowledging of their words and frustrations with either non-verbal cues like nodding or eye contact and verbal cues using short affirmative language.

  3. Be curious. Ask questions that allow for expansion of their subject matter. Dig deeper into the what the real problem is.

  4. Be responsive with contribution. Once the problem is revealed, then suggest ways to solve it or give evidence as to how it arrived. Involve them in the path forward.

Active listening is taking a genuine interest in someone’s problem so you can contribute in a way that is affirming.


Leaders can only lead when they understand what their tribe are really saying.

It takes time to listen, hence why it is not a strong attribute for some leaders.


The world could do with more listeners. Are you going to be one?


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