Listening is an art form, and it may be quickly becoming a lost art.
In today’s culture, finding someone to blame, shifting responsibility, making excuses and arguing in general seem to be required skills. Winning an argument is more important to some that accepting responsibility and learning from it. We tend to listen in order to prepare ourselves to get the best of whoever is talking to us.
Simply put people tend to listen to respond, not to understand.
In a recent post on Hubspot, the writer, Amanda Zantal-Wiener, began her post like this:
“A few weeks ago, I had an alarming revelation: I’m a crappy listener. That came to light when someone important to me pointed out that I don’t seem to have any interest in what he does for work. ‘Your eyes just glaze over whenever I talk about my job,’ he told me.”
Are you like that as a coach? Think about it. When one of your players talks to you about something important to them, do you hear what they are saying? Really hear? Are you distracted, or appear distracted? Again, are you listening to understand or are you listening to respond, eager to express your point of view, determined to leave the conversation as the winner?
Zantal-Wiener’s article offered six phrases that demonstrate active listening. They are: “Do you mean …”, “It sounds like …”, “Really?”, “I’ve noticed that …”, “Let me be sure I’ve got this right”, and “I’m sorry. That really sucks.”
The point here is not to give you a list of things that help fool your players into thinking that you are listening and that you care. The hope is that you can recognize that you aren’t listening and your players probably know it.
There is tremendous value in listening to understand when your players talk to you. For example, understanding where they are coming from can give you some insight into how to best reach them. Players have problems off the field, some of which you are not aware. What might initially sound like the beginning of an excuse, might be a tidbit of information that helps you adjust your approach with that player.
You also can learn something about the team. Every team has those clever players who have that radar-like ability to act like the perfect teammate when the coach is around, but turn into jerks when you are out of ear shot. If you are listening to understand what a player or a couple players are trying to covertly tell you, you might be able to expose a fraud that is killing team chemistry.
There are simple ways to improve your listening ability, and the most effective are those that allow you access to one-on-one conversations. Opening channels of communication with the team allow you to gather the information you need to understand your players better.
DRIVN’s chat feature does that for you.