Listening for Practice Success
If you aren’t familiar with Hallmark’s Maxine, she is a brazen older woman with a stooped back, a mop of curly gray hair and an abrasive personality. One of her infamous pieces of sage advice is “If you have something to say, raise your hand and place it over your mouth.”
Let's face it… the deck is woefully stacked against us when it comes to true listening. We are all hard-wired to evaluate and plagued by an endless internal monologue. To top that off we have to contend with external distractions in our environment. Time, to-do lists, noisy equipment or crowded rooms can all get in the way of listening.
The art of listening is truly a challenge. Hearing what is needed from your patients and your employees isn’t easy. You must seek this knowledge by deliberately asking questions and listening. Only then can you plan and decide what actions must be taken. Whether it is treatment compliance or job performance, influencing others can’t happen until you listen.
Hearing is not the same as listening. That’s why it’s called “active listening.” It is not a passive activity because it demands your attention and focus. And if you want to be a “black belt” in listening, listen for what isn’t being said in words. Non-verbal gestures, facial expressions, volume and tonality of speech give insight into the speaker’s true message.
Even as a psychologist with years of practice, I know that listening is one of the most difficult things a human can do. Yet the ability to listen effectively is an essential component of leadership. Unfortunately few leaders know just what it takes to become a better listener. You can improve your ability to lead effectively by learning the skills for active listening.
If you apply the six skills required for active listening, you will not only be known as a good listener. You will become a better leader as well. And remember that we have two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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