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Mindful active listening is essential to compassionate leadership

In Strategy #5 in our ongoing video tip series on compassionate leadership, I talked about the importance of asking questions AND listening to the answers.  In today’s tip, I’d like to further explore the value of listening when it comes to compassionate leadership.  Specifically, today’s strategy is to practice being a mindful active listener.

Practice being a mindful active listener

Compassionate leadership means that you need to actively listen to your employees’ concerns and ideas.  When you learn to be more present and attentive in the moment, you can better understand and respond to the needs of others.  Mindful active listening is a technique that involves paying close attention to the person who is speaking, without judgment or distraction. This practice can help you to become more attuned to the needs and perspectives of others, and to develop greater empathy and compassion.

Five specific actions that lead to more compassionate leadership

With that in mind, here are some specific things that you can do to listen actively and mindfully.

  • First, pay attention. When someone is speaking to you, make a conscious effort to concentrate on what they are saying. This means actively focus on their words and nonverbal cues, rather than getting distracted by your own thoughts or external distractions.
  • Second, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how they might be feeling. This can help you to respond to them with greater understanding and compassion.
  • Third, avoid interrupting. When you interrupt, you are likely preventing the other person from fully expressing themselves. Instead, deliberately try waiting for them to finish speaking before responding.
  • Fourth, pay attention to and use nonverbal cues. When you nod, or maintain eye contact, or use facial expressions, you show the other person that you are fully engaged and interested in what they are saying.  Turn to face the person, rather than looking at your computer screen.  Put your pen or pencil down.  These small actions create a huge impact and demonstrate that you are a compassionate leader.
  • Finally, reflect back to show that you were actively listening and trying to understand their perspective. You can do this by paraphrasing their main points or by asking clarifying questions.

Mindful active listening is a key trait in compassionate leadership.  Try making even one or two of the small changes I have just suggested, and you will see a significant improvement in the quality of your listening.

Is it hard to listen actively and mindfully?  I would suspect that for many of you (like me!), it is!  What are you doing to overcome distractions and listen without judgement?  Please share by adding a comment below.

For other tips in this series, please go to Creating a compassionate workplace video series.


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