Lessons in Servant Leadership: What Did You Say?
Watch almost any media talk show and the interviewer will often interrupt the guest trying to answer the question just posed. This is such a common phenomenon that it is accepted behavior perhaps driven by ratings that come from on-air confrontation. It is part of the culture!
Why ask the question if you’re only going to impose your view in the middle of an answer? Perhaps guests are just convenient foils.
When briefing senior management, colloquial wisdom is to get to the point quickly and succinctly. Words to live by and often put forth by this pundit. Yet it is amazing how many of us violate the axiom by continuing to talk.
Truly listening with all senses is a rare skill. How often have we been in a situation such as a sales call when the customer is interrupted by members of the sales team?
It is more difficult to close a deal when the preconceived notions of the seller override the buyer’s response. Often in such a situation the client’s body language will give a clue as to her irritation when ‘talked over.’
The Power of Listening
So, you have made your pitch and are now sitting quietly waiting for the client to respond. However, the so called ‘pregnant pause’ ensues.[i]
The overwhelming desire is to ‘jump in’ and say something to break the silence. But how does that close a deal when an offer has just been made?
Such behavior usually results in either prolonged negotiation or no deal. The human inclination to talk can be irresistible. A better behavior is to shut up and listen!
Some research shows that good listening is beneficial to both employees and their organizations. However, barriers to better listening include:
- Loss of Power—The appearance of weakness or not in control of the situation
- Takes Time and Effort—Daily time pressures may negatively impact on the work product
- Fear of Change—The speaker must refrain from making ‘foregone conclusions’ until a response is articulated
In addition to certain listening skills, a good listener must have the ‘intention’ to become one and resist the urge to interrupt. This can become the framework for real dialogue and exchange of ideas and information.[ii]
Getting to Yes
In a TEDx Talk, the coauthor of the negotiation book, Getting to Yes discusses the value of listening in any human interaction. The investment of less than 16 minutes of your time will be enlightening. One suspects the almost 900,00 viewers would agree.
Our inherent nature to ‘rattle on’ distracts us from our goals. We recently discussed the value of understanding the difference between Wants, Likes and Needs.[iii]
Truly listening and understanding your counterpart’s feelings (or deeply personal Needs) will unlock the key to getting a deal done—Yes! This is a major component of servant leadership.
R B C
Human (B)ehaviors in certain situations or (C)onditions establish (R)elationships between two or more parties. We have been extending this construct for almost 25 years and it has broad applicability. What kind of Relationship is established if one or more individuals do not listen to others?
How Well Do You Listen to Your Colleagues and Family Members and Do They Listen to You?
For More Information
Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to other third party materials. They are provided for education and entertainment only.
For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game
You can contact the author as well.
Critical Mass: Value from the RBC Framework
Nuclear physicists define the term, “critical mass” as the amount of fissile material whereby a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining. From that original definition, the construct is further developed along societal and political terms as a function of the environment and number of adopters and their interdependencies that create enough of a consensus for individual actions that sustains an undertaking.
In 1996, the author published the first of several case studies on a societal interaction model based on the Relationships, Behavior and Conditions (RBC) construct among economic actors. Previously the model was only in the domain of academia.
This blog addresses contemporary issues from the RBC perspective and whether in the present state they are sustainable or not. Many readers may be familiar with the “Innovation Adoption Curve.” RBC seeks to enlighten the causality of behaviors that cause movement towards the critical mass that generates movement along this diffusion curve.
Other Blogs by Dr. Shemwell
Dr. Shemwell is an author/contributor for the following 3rd party blogs.
So, You Want to be an Entrepreneur
Dr. Shemwell is a member of the Global Energy Mentors (GEM) Leadership Team. Every month he or one of his colleagues is posting timely tips to help entrepreneurs navigate the energy start up sector. Check out the Landing Page.
Governing Energy Blog
BTOES Insights is the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news. Dr. Shemwell is a contributor.
Consult 2050 connects organizations with a wide range of consultants all around the world. The firm operates an online marketplace for consultancy services.
Essays on Business and Information
This two volume set covers a series of newsletters and opinion pieces published circa 2002-2009, including Bug Lore–Lessons for the Online Economy that addressed real time systems vulnerabilities from Y2K (1998-99).
About the Author
Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector. He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of operations. Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling Operational Excellence and regulatory compliance management. He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of societal relationships.