When You Become "That Person"; The Leader Who Doesn't Listen

October 28, 2020

Remember that time you got all wound up in your idea?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You’re sitting in a meeting and someone is lying out their case. With each question or objection, their voice rises. Reason gives way to advocacy which gives way to a bit of cray-cray. Pushed to the brink, the person blurts out, “I can’t believe you don’t get this! What’s wrong with you people?”

Ah, you have heard this one. I will admit, I’ve dabbled in this behavior from time to time myself. With disastrous outcomes I might add. Which forced me to think about what the hell is this all about?

It’s not very pretty. I get so wrapped up in my own (brilliant, amazing) ideas that my (uncontrollable, childish) id takes charge and my (more mature, connected) self leaves the building. This is not a good look for leaders.

I was able to fix this “quirk”.

I’ve trained myself to notice two things; what is happening in my body and how am I engaging in the conversation. If I feel tense and ready to pounce like a cat, I take some deep cleansing breaths. This usually stops me from being impulsive.

If I pay attention to how others are reacting to me, I notice withdrawal, hostility and competition. It’s hard for me to shift gears from “I’ve got the best idea and you assholes need to hear me” to “I need to listen and make room for others” but it does save me from myself. Usually.

When all else fails, I find that shame works. I really hate when I’m the biggest fuckup in the room.

Active listening is more important than ever. Whether virtually or in person, we can’t leave anyone out of the discussion and problem solving. Everyone’s voice must be heard, and leaders need to set the example.

Listening is a skill you can learn. If this is something you need help with, please send us a message.