Gini Dietrich

Shut Up: How Great Leaders Listen

By: Gini Dietrich | March 4, 2013 | 

Shut Up- How Great Leaders ListenLast week, Jon Stow wrote an interesting blog post called, “Communicating with Our Employees and Colleagues.”

In it, he talked about the importance of having conversations, not dictatorships, with the people on your team. Part of that discussion was the Yahoo! memo that was leaked to the media.

But the underlying message? You can’t just talk. You have to listen.

Some of the world’s very best leaders are incredible listeners. Bill Clinton, no matter how you feel about his politics, is a master at this.

Next time you see him interviewed, pay attention to how he listens. You’ll notice he listens very intently, his eyes on the interviewer. When the question is asked, he pauses, thinks for a moment, and then answers.

Though he likely knows what he’s going to be asked before the question is even out of the interviewer’s mouth, and you know he already knows how he’s going to answer, he never interrupts the interviewer or finishes the question before answering.

Do We Know How to Listen?

Now look around at the people you work with every day. Sit back in a staff meeting and watch. How many times do they interrupt one another? Do they let one another finish before speaking? Do they jump in and out of conversations with no respect for the other people at the table?

This happens with your friends, too. I know my friends do it. We get excited or passionate about a topic and all begin to talk on top of one another.

No one actually listens…but we all want to talk.

I met Randy Hall about five years ago. This is the second time I’ve worked with him on my own leadership skills. He’s my Phil Jackson. The first time, though, I wasn’t as experienced and wise and he pushed me really hard.

I remember one of our first coaching sessions. I had an HR issue I needed help working through. I presented it to him and waited, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, for him to tell me what to do.

He said, “What do you think?”

I remember thinking, “Well, if I knew what to think, I wouldn’t be asking you!”

So I stumbled my way through an answer. He said, “And why is that the way you’d handle it?”

Shoot, Randy. I don’t know! I’ve never done this before.

Great Leaders Listen

But what he did was not only force me to think through the issue before presenting it to him, he made me think about the best way to handle it…without telling me what to do. Sure, he’d guide me, but he’d never give me the answer.

It’s a habit I picked up from him. My team will tell you (likely they won’t be shy about saying so in the comments here) I do this to them all the time.

It’s super frustrating. I know it is. But rather than give them the answers, I’m listening to the problem and I’m empowering them to make the decisions.

It’s not easy on this side, either. Most of the time I’m presented with a challenge I know how to fix. It would be a lot easier and a lot less time-intense if I just said, “This is how you fix it. Now be on your way.”

But a leader that does not make. A scalable business that does not make. An empowered team that does not make.

The next time you’re presented with a challenge, I encourage you to listen. Really listen. And then ask the other person, “What do you think?”

I’ll be curious to hear what happens.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Caleb_Parker

    RT “@ginidietrich: Shut Up: How Great Leaders Listen via @spinsucks”

  • OneJillian

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks g’morning Gini, I totally just RT’d Yvette’s SS tweet 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @OneJillian Morning to you!

      • SamBroberg

        @ginidietrich G’Mornin’ Gini.

        • ginidietrich

          @SamBroberg Mornin to you!

        • SamBroberg

          ginidietrich Happy Easter Gini!

        • ginidietrich

          SamBroberg Happy Easter!

  • Listening is one of the great traits of effective leadership. I’m always amused when I can remember to shut up and listen and then find, after I’ve said nothing, that the person I listened to thought I was so wise. But we all want to tell our stories. We are a nation of people to whom no one is listening and when we find someone who actually does listen? Worth their weight in gold, we find ourselves thinking. And that thing you do about asking us what we would do when we ask you a question? Yup. Totally annoying. Even as I understand exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it and that I will learn important stuff from the exercise. 🙂

    • @allenmireles LOL! It IS totally annoying. But it works. It’s funny you say that about the person thinking you wise even though you said nothing. shonali and I were talking about that on her blog. How many times do we have clients hire us and they’ve never asked us a question about us? Happens all the time, but because we listen and ask questions, they think us wise.

      • @ginidietrich  @allenmireles It’s almost like we’re armchair shrinks. 😉

  • I still have a lot of work to do in becoming a better listener. Reviewing old podcast interviews has been an exercise in humility, and I have to focus on letting my guests really take the spotlight. Always learning.

    • @jasonkonopinski Interviewing is so hard. When I did the webinar with Mitch, he’d say something and I’d want to respond by having a conversation about it. I had to remind myself several times it was an INTERVIEW.

      • @ginidietrich Exactly. Of course, it doesn’t always help matters when so many of my guests have been long-time friends (cough, you, cough). Slipping into conversation seems almost inevitable. 😉

        • @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich Taking a cue from my radio days, and based on the NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production, I would say the best interviews ARE conversations. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just knowing when to jump in and when to interject. Give a listen to David Dye on World Cafe or Terry Gross on Fresh Air and you’ll hear this. It’s not just QAQAQA

        • belllindsay

          @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich I did the most amazing two day intensive interviewing course when I was at the CBC. Learned so much. And you’re right – interviewing is REALLY hard, and definitely a skill.

  • belllindsay

    Gini Dietrich: “What do YOU think?” – Every. Single. Time. 😉 I’m a horrible interrupter. Horrible. It’s something I’m insanely self-aware of, and try really hard to curb. I think it comes from growing up in a loud (seriously loud), boisterous family. And from being the third child – “Hey!! I’m here!! Can someone listen to ME!?” Forgive me friends and colleagues, for I have sinned. 🙂

    • @belllindsay TWINSIES. Well, except for the third child bit. I’m the oldest of two, but my family is most certainly boisterous and easily excitable. 😉

    • @belllindsay I used to think it had something to do with birth order, but I think it has to do more with personality. I’m an introvert and the oldest. My sister is six years younger, the fourth child, and an extrovert. She doesn’t stop talking. I’m more comfortable listening so it’s easier for me.

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich I’m not convinced…..but then again I’m not really listening.

        • @belllindsay  @ginidietrich I’m not the best listener…I try. I’m the youngest of two and my sister doesn’t stop talking either. When I notice I’m about to say something and interrupt, I try to bite my tongue and let the other person finish their thought. I have a friend who is absolutely TERRIBLE at interrupting and she’ll just continue to talk over you. It’s so annoying!!!

  • Liz

    The passion to be heard often overcomes the ability to listen. It is such a tough balancing act but if we are able to step back, it would make most businesses run so much more efficiently. I sit on several project teams and the amount of time that is wasted speaking on top of one another is astounding. It is true that in silence, the universe answers.

    • @Liz It’s pretty scary, isn’t it? I watch it happen all the time. People will say to me, “Why aren’t you talking?” I’m just waiting for the rest of you to duke it out.

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich  @Liz Cage match!

  • This is why I tell you to shut up all the time. Because I know that you’re a great leader.

    • @KenMueller What? I can’t HEAR you!

    • @KenMueller Sometimes I have to search for reasons to remind me why we’re friends.

      • @ginidietrich Because I think you’re a great leader! so SHUT UP!

  • I do this with my kids on a regular basis as well as at work. Some people are really surprised when they find out you are generally interested in their opinion.
    It is a good way to build trust and help people feel valued.

    • @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes You’re up early! Shouldn’t you be asleep right now, having written until the wee hours of the night?

  • ElissaFreeman

    I was taught this in a coaching session – years ago; and I tried it out on a long-time co-worker. At first, she looked at me like I had grown a third eye – she was so used to me giving the answer and that was that! Good for me, but not for her career growth. Great post!

    • @ElissaFreeman Not good for anyone’s career growth. And it drives my team crazy that I do that. But I remind them all the time I’m doing it not to annoy them (well, most times anyway), but to help them grow and empower them to do what they think is right. This isn’t the Gini show. If it is, we won’t grow like we want to.

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich  @ElissaFreeman “Not good for their career growth” LOL I must add this: not good for their career growth IF they are riding other people’s coattails and only relying one others to always give them the correct answer or tell them the right thing to do. SUPER for their career growth if they can grab the ball and run with it, and gain confidence and knowledge by making their own decisions.

      • magriebler

        @ginidietrich  @ElissaFreeman I love that phrase: This isn’t the Gini show. It’s not the Marianne show either. (More’s the pity — HA.) But it’s only by shutting up that we really help team members grow into their strengths, build confidence, show their smarts and ultimately become better contributors to the overall mission. Sounds like a pretty good reason to bite our tongues.

        • ElissaFreeman

          @magriebler  @ginidietrich  @belllindsay I’ll tell you where else it would work – on my soon to be teenage daughter! And? Not the Gini show? Yeah, right…*giggle”

  • A great reminder…I am better at this than I used to be, but it’s a constant challenge. A saying of one of my mentors is: Listen without the intent to respond. If you listen in that way, you will actually hear and process what someone is asking for and therefore make better recommendations for clients.

    • @katskrieger That’s the hard part. We all want to respond. I think it’s part of our nature.

      • @KenMueller  @katskrieger Silence is uncomfortable. I may be flubbing this stat completely, but five seconds of silence is about the most that most people can tolerate in a social situation. It can actually be used to great effect in drawing out discussion in training groups or ice-breakers.  
        When I was a peer mentor as an undergraduate orienting new freshmen to the realities of college life, I’d use this one all the time. It gets people talking.

    • @katskrieger I really love to listen without the intent to respond.

  • JackVincent

    Agree with katskrieger that this (active listening) is a constant challenge, but, yes, also always working on it.  In fact, it’s central to my sales coaching and training, AND, it’s my belief that great sales people actually LEAD buyers to make the right purchase.  Central to that is listening (and asking the right questions!).  Thanks!

    • magriebler

      @JackVincent You’re really on target with this. Being intentional about listening gives you the information you need to tailor your pitch to the individual prospect. You’re not making assumptions about what they need. It turns a sales call into a partnership.

    • @JackVincent I totally agree with you, Jack! Shonali and I were talking about this the other day. She asked me if people really hire us without checking us out online. It happens all the time. Sometimes it makes me laugh that we say nothing in meetings, other than ask questions, and they hire us because we’re so smart. Yeah, we’re so smart because we let you talk.

  • Knowing when to interject and when to listen is an art form. And it’s all too easy to think you’re building camaraderie by sharing one of your own stories, or offering your opinion. But the harsh truth is, we often talk just to talk. It can be hard to really listen, but it’s often what leads to real solutions.

    • @itsjessicann Human beings talk to talk. It’s just what we do so it’s hard for all of us.

  • allie02land

    @elissapr @SpinSucks Excellent article- i’ve printed it off to share!

  • Great post @ginidietrich – It is a really amazing skill to actually listen (and hear!)…I’m like  @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I do this with the kiddos all the time and it drives them (and me) nutso!  But I know they learn and retain so much more this way.

    • @lizreusswig  So how do you do it with them? Do you ask, “What do you think?”

      • @ginidietrich Yes or I’ll direct them to where they can find info – for example, if they want to know how to spell a word, I’ll have them get the dictionary.  Or if it’s an issue between the two of them – I will make them work out a compromise by listening to what the other one is saying.  It’s a lot more “work” for me, but so important that they learn how to stop, listen and focus.

  • Hansjörg Leichsenring

    Great post

  • Love this. I’ve always struggled with talking more than I listen. I’ve gotten better (ok MUCH better) over the years but it’s still something I have to keep in check. As far as leadership, I think the approach demonstrated by Randy is so smart. Instead of swooping in to solve the problem and becoming a potential crutch for your team you can ask the right questions and guide them to the answer.
    I’ve been on the receiving end of this, too and it can feel frustrating at first to not get the answer you know the person has and instead being forced to work through it yourself. However, once you realize you’re actually being empowered and strengthened as a leader, it gets much easier to have to “think for yourself” in this way.

    • @kateupdates Oh it’s super frustrating. I did this to @allenmireles this morning. She said, “I KNEW you were going to say that!” But we worked through the challenge and she ended up being more confident about how to handle it than if I had said, “You need to say this and this.”

  • Marlene Drell Frykman

    I know several people who do this. It makes me insane.

  • LundieP

    You said,  “But a leader that does not make. A scalable business that does make. An empowered team that does not make.”   Should that be “A scalable business that does NOT make.”?

    • @LundieP Oh yes…oops! It was super early when I wrote this. Thank you.

  • Gini,
    Not only does listening change who you are as a leader, but I’ve found by striving to be a good listener, you are given opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have.  With active listening, you are observing, contemplating, evaluating and truly considering the information.  My listening skills saved a former boss’s bum once, because I wrote down what our prospect wanted to see in our proposal. My boss said, “They asked for that?”  Yes!!!!  I also feel like technology is the new barrier to communication, especially with texting and not paying attention because of what’s on our phone.  We’re missing opportunities, and our audience is fully aware that we are not listening to them.  Great post, Gini!

    • @jolynndeal First, I love anyone who uses the word bum. Secondly, REALLY good point about technology and not paying attention. I still take handwritten notes in meetings and that’s why.

  • There is a reason why people love being around my husband, garthclick . He’s a terrific listener. People LOVE talking to him because he lets them talk and he doesn’t interrupt. And, because he’s such a good listener and very observant, he’ll pick up on things I often miss. We’ll go to parties together and he’ll notice things that I didn’t because I was too busy being a social butterfly. It’s truly a gift. (And coincidentally, it’s Garth’s birthday, so fitting that I should brag on him today!)
    I think this is a tremendous life lesson. One I’m trying to get way better at – especially the interrupting part. No one likes to be interrupted, so why do we do it?!
    I think it’s great that you’re empowering your team to be leaders. I wish more of my bosses would have thought this way. Now, I hope I can be that kind of boss as I build my team.

    • @lauraclick  garthclick Happy Birthday, Garth! Laura, what a great tribute to your husband. Publicly praising one’s spouse isn’t done enough these days. As @jolynndeal perfectly stated, “With active listening, you are observing, contemplating, evaluating and truly considering the information.” That’s true for me when listening to a client, even more so in a trial. AS always, an excellent topic for reminders: LISTEN, so you’ll know what you’re missing.

      • @Tim McCoy  garthclick  Thanks for the birthday wishes for Garth! I passed the message along. So, you’re an attorney? Garth is too! I think listening is especially critical in your profession. 🙂

    • @lauraclick  garthclick Happy Birthday, Garth!

      • @ginidietrich  garthclick Thanks! I passed the note along since he’s not so great about this Twitter thing. 🙂

    • @lauraclick Also…don’t get me wrong. This came with A LOT of coaching. And Randy always points out that I’m better at it at the beginning of the week than I am at the end of the week. It’s a good thing for me to be super conscientious about.

      • HowieG

        @ginidietrich  @lauraclick coaching and lots of time outs when Gini wasn’t listening.

      • @ginidietrich Just curious – how frequently do you have coaching calls? I hired a coach a couple of years ago when I was just getting started with my business. I think it’s time to do it again – this time, to talk about growth. Just curious what other folks do or how they go about it.

        • @lauraclick I do once a week plus lots of emails in between. I have a couple of very specific challenges that he’s helping me with and I’m helping him get his marketing program up and running. So we both win. I’d suggest checking out @4thGear , @KensViews , and blfarris

  • I think it’s important to understand we speak at about 120 words a minute and listen at  about 400.words a minute. Given this imbalance – the speaker  must ascertain the listener is paying attention to him/her and not using the void  staring out the window. It is also true there is no communication until there is understanding! To be sure there is understanding – have the listener repeat back your instructon until you are both satisfied you’re on the same page.

    • @jdrobertson Those are really interesting stats…I didn’t realize that. I think I must type at 120 words a minute and think at 400 words a minute, which would explain why I always type ahead of myself.

      • @ginidietrich
         I know an experienced typist can easily type 120 wpm – but it always boggles my mind when I remind myself that 120 wpm is 600 key strokes or 10 keystrokes per second. I just finished a book 70,740 words in length and probably hit 15 wpm on a good day. I envy your typing skills.

  • NicSuccess

    @LisaPetrilli @ginidietrich You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods
    and be in business tomorrow.

  • You wouldn’t know this from my blog posts, but I really do try hard to listen. I find, though, that I often get run over in meetings, or get teased for raising my hand to speak, but it’s because I don’t want to be one of the people speaking over others. I want to hear what other people think.I love the advice I read below – listen without composing a reply in your mind. It was one of the best pieces of advice I ever received, and while I definitely struggle with making it work, I’m trying. It’s hard, though, because the world isn’t conditioned for that approach, and it seems like often if you don’t jump right in with something in the first nanosecond of silence, the window slams shut.

    • @mickeygomez Mickey, you’re correct. In certain circumstances it seems you have to jump in there and run the risk of being rude. It’s a balancing act. Keep doing what you’re doing. Perhaps even vocalize more aggressively if your passion for the subject is strong. Never lose your polite nature. It’s respectful and endearing. I’m guessing it’s who you ARE.

      • @Tim McCoy Thanks, Tim! That’s very kind of you. It’s very much a work in progress for me, as it probably is for most folks. I’ve also found that listening and observing can tell you A LOT if you choose to truly pay attention in a conversation or a meeting.

    • @mickeygomez I would pee my pants if I were in a meeting with you and you rose your hand. In fact, I’ve now put that on my bucket list.

      • I’m also fun at parties.

        • @mickeygomez And tending bar, from what I have observed. 😉

  • PattiRoseKnight1

    Coming from a large agency (30+years) that didn’t “empower” admins to make decisions made working at AD challenging for me.  Gini would ask me “what do you think?” And, I thought “wow no one ever, ever asked me what I thought before….what a new concept (for me anyway).”  It took some time before I felt “empowered” and I still struggle with this.
    One thing I need to point out is that just because someone is silent doesn’t always mean they are actually listening.  Listening is a skill that everyone can really work on.

    • magriebler

      @PattiRoseKnight1 What a nice distinction. Part of listening is also showing that you’re engaged so the speaker doesn’t have to wonder whether you’re really paying attention or not.

    • @PattiRoseKnight1 Oh you mean like I listen to you? LOL! Not really! My favorite time of the week is Patti story time.

      • PattiRoseKnight1

        @ginidietrich you listen because some of my stories are beyond belief but they are real 😉  I tell my kids and they roll their eyes….one day they’ll wish they’d have listened like Gini did 🙂

    • @PattiRoseKnight1 What? 😉

  • A boss I had way back used to come out with “I hear what you say…” by which he meant “I’m right and I am not interested in your opinion”. Hearing someone is not enough. We have to listen. We might learn something and yes, @allenmireles it is a great trait of effective leadership.

    • belllindsay

      @Jon Stow “I hear what you say but..” is classic management speak. As you say, it’s “Here’s a pretend pat on the head, now bugger off and do it the way I told you to do it.” Man, how many times have I heard that one. 😉 It’s very refreshing to not hear that here at Arment Dietrich.    @allenmireles

    • @Jon Stow  Ug…that grates on my nerves almost as much as “with all due respect.”

      • @ginidietrich  @Jon Stow And when anyone say’s “with all due respect,” you KNOW that’s code for: “Listen, you fool. You know nothing.” For realz.

    • @Jon Stow That’s so interesting. You’re right though, we often do say “I hear you,” when we really intend the statement to preface our next great thought. Well done. *shakes head in wonderment at the ways of the world*

  • William Xifaras

    I’d contribute to the conversation, but in the spirit of the article, I choose to listen instead.

    • @William Xifaras LOL!!! HAHAHA!

      • HowieG

        @ginidietrich  @William Xifaras bah you are just playing XBox and want us thinking you are paying attention. I know that trick.

        • William Xifaras

          @HowieG  @ginidietrich Lol…

  • Melanie Tolley Hall

    I gotta do better at this…. I’m about a 5 1/2 on a 1 to10 scale listener! But, if I were perfect, people would just hate me, right??

  • onstreammedia

    Seems simple, yet apparently so hard. RT @ginidietrich: Shut Up: How Great Leaders Listen via @spinsucks

    • ginidietrich

      @onstreammedia It’s SUPER hard!

  • Excellent post. To become a great leader, managers must make the shift from talking to listening. It’s a bigger change than most expect. When I train on “From Manager To Leader,” one of my favorite pieces of advice (if I say so myself) is “SHADDUP AND LISTEN!”  I always get a laugh. And I hope I’m breaking through.

  • ginidietrich

    @chillygal Wow! Thank you!!

    • chillygal

      @ginidietrich It’s been shared and reposted several times on my FB page because people thought it was that good. Thanks for writing it!

      • ginidietrich

        @chillygal You’re so good to me!

  • ginidietrich

    @hessiejones @DannyBrown At least the “shut up” part

    • hessiejones

      @ginidietrich @DannyBrown that’s what I was referencing:) Somehow when he says it there is no fear from the receiving end.

      • ginidietrich

        @hessiejones @DannyBrown Yeah…it’s probably the accent.

  • ginidietrich

    @mickeygomez Shut up!

    • mickeygomez

      @ginidietrich Never! I mean always! Is this when I raise my hand? #ListeningEars

      • ginidietrich

        @mickeygomez We talked about your #listeningears during our staff meeting yesterday

        • mickeygomez

          @ginidietrich YES! Should I get mine ready? Did anyone raise their hands? Am I an honorary staff member? #somanyquestions

  • ginidietrich

    @annelizhannan LOL!!

  • ginidietrich

    @TheYaffeGroup Bwahahaha!

    • TheYaffeGroup

      @ginidietrich thought you’d like that one. Happy Monday. (enjoyed the post) ^MM

  • ginidietrich

    @4thGear Grumble, grumble

    • 4thGear

      @ginidietrich You sound like those bumps on the side of the road. My 8 year old calls them grumble strips.

      • ginidietrich

        @4thGear Grumble strips! LOL! That’s totally what they sound like.

        • 4thGear

          @ginidietrich Kids are always right about that kind of stuff

  • ginidietrich

    @LisaPetrilli OMG! I keep meaning to say I LOVE THE DANCING COSTUMES!!

    • LisaPetrilli

      @ginidietrich 🙂 Thank you so much, Gini!! Craziest thing I’ve ever done…and I’m loving every minute of it! 🙂

      • ginidietrich

        @LisaPetrilli I imagine so! I’m kind of jealous.

        • LisaPetrilli

          @ginidietrich 🙂 You’d love my @FredAstaireSB instructors. When your foot has healed come take a private class, my treat! 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @LisaPetrilli OK!!

  • rdopping

    What would Fraser Crane do?
    I often wonder why people few the need to overpower each other in conversation. I work with a bunch of type A personalities who consistently jump all over each other. It makes me nuts.
    The best approach for me is to not talk. Eventually I get a turn and people usually wonder how I could synthesize everything so succinctly. It makes me howl everytime it happens.

    • HowieG

      @rdopping I love messing with Types A’s who deserve to feel like Type Cs to keep them in reality. And really ignoring em with some patronizing works great.

      • @HowieG  @rdopping I’m not the vindictive type but I have to admit I do a bit of this too….it’s kind of satisfying to respond in a way that lets them know, yes, we can all see you think you invented the sandwich, and no we’re not going to play that game.

        • rdopping

          @JoeCardillo @HowieG Me neither but it is kinda fun. Hehe.

      • rdopping

        @HowieG Now now Howie. Be nice.

    • @rdopping That’s exactly how I am…I used to get scolded after big brainstorm meetings because I didn’t speak up. But then my bosses realized my best ideas came AFTER everyone was finished talking.

      • rdopping

        @ginidietrich Ha. Two peas in a pod.

      • @ginidietrich  @rdopping  You just shined a light on a two great lessons for brainstorm facilitators: 1) Accept that the introverts aren’t  contributing ideas in the session, not because they don’t have any, but because it’s not their natural zone to share in a large group. Pair participants off during the session, have them brainstorm the ideas on their own, and then have the introverts present them. Works like a charm; and 2) Always create and offer a vehicle for all to share ideas after the brainstorm. You’ll be amazed at what your introverts offer.  Rumor has it that’s how the great “Catfish Chef’s Contest” was born!

        • rdopping

          @KensViews  @ginidietrich Good viewpoint. Personally I don’t have a problem speaking up. I just choose not to when everyone “needs” to make a point.
          The introvert exercise works well. We normally have people write on post-it notes and stick ideas on a board. That way someone can have their idea presented without feeling like they have to present it.

        • @rdopping  @ginidietrich  Assuring both introverts and extroverts that their ideas will be considered and “protected” is one of the most important roles of a facilitator. Another is managing ideas and suggestions so that they’re focused on the needs of the “problem holder,” and not that some participants “need” to make a point, as you cite above.

  • StephanieBaron

    “@howiegoldfarb: Shut Up: How Great Leaders Listen via @spinsucks @ginidietrich”

    • howiegoldfarb

      @stephaniebaron thank you for sharing @GiniDietrich ‘s post I felt bad being her only reader today

      • StephanieBaron

        .@howiegoldfarb I always read @ginidietrich stuff, I wanna be her when I grow up, or Tina Fey 😉

        • ginidietrich

          @StephanieBaron Ohhhh! Can we both be Tina Fey?! @howiegoldfarb

        • StephanieBaron

          @ginidietrich one of us can be Amy Poehler ;D @howiegoldfarb

        • howiegoldfarb

          @stephaniebaron @ginidietrich I think you both should be sarah palin

        • StephanieBaron

          @howiegoldfarb hey! You’re not that far dude, I can drive down and kick your alien butt! @ginidietrich

        • howiegoldfarb

          @stephaniebaron lol well @ginidietrich has read all her books and has all her fox news segments on DVD.

        • ginidietrich

          @StephanieBaron Deal!

  • HowieG

    Great post Gini. Clients and Employees. Colleagues and Bosses. Friends and Family. All are moire impressed if you listen and remember. My weakness is I forget people’s names the first time too often. I used to recite them in my head after first meetings. Tell me twice it is in my head for life. 
    Eye contact is very important. In fact I suggest those that have a hard time with eye contact work on it. I am fearless. Don’t care who you are I will look direct in your eyes. So important especially in Sales and marketing where everyone thinks you bullshit for money. Nothing confirms you are different than that direct eye contact.  And you will be surprised how many look away.

    • @HowieG I don’t know why eye contact (and a firm handshake) are so hard. I’m going to pay attention to that and see who actually looks away.

  • All I can say is that I am planning to make myself some of those “Listening Ears” @mickeygomez featured on Facebook. I’ll be wearing those suckers soon. And listening with ferocious concentration!

    • @allenmireles  @mickeygomez LOL!! I thought those were hilarious!

  • Kath_San

    Simple reminder of the most important task of any professional, even outside the realm of PR. You could have the most brilliant strategy or idea, but if you do not take time to list to your client, then they will not like any idea you have. People can’t hear you until you hear them. You take turns, but the client is always first. This post also does a great job of explaining listening involves an interactive component. Eye contact and acknowledgement are key to engaging with a client or coworker. Great tips of taking your leadership to the next level, along with any professional and personal relationships!
    Katie Sanders
    Platform Magazine Contributing Writer

    • @Kath_San I also like one of the points in the comments below about how technology is preventing us from listening. I’d even add to that to either turn off your WiFi if you’re using your phone or table to take notes or to stick with good, old paper.

  • Good stuff. I would add that it’s important to do this across all levels, meaning if you are at the top of an org you should tune in to what’s happening on the ground. People appreciate it, and you tend to learn some important things that way.
    On that thinking thing – I’m reading Richard Feynman (well known physicist, Los Alamos project, liquid helium, etc…) and he tells this story about how he was such a whiz kid that grown-ups asked him to fix radios for them all the time. One guy had him over and Feynman stood there for a few minutes thinking over the warm-up process for the old radio tubes, and how the power worked. The guy asked him “Whatta ya standing there for? Why don’t you fix it already?” to which he replied “I’m thinking!” After he handily solved the problem, the grateful customer declared to everyone he knew that “this kid fixes radios by thinking!”
    Maybe a corollary to your post is that we have to be creative in our listening. Sometimes the radio, computer, or breakroom has something to say too 😉

    • @JoeCardillo My computer has a lot to say…so much so I nearly threw it out the window last week. 
      I would add to your story and say this doesn’t have to be the traditional leader either – the person at the top of the ranks. Someone just starting out in business can be a leader by listening, asking questions, and learning.

      • @ginidietrich Absolutely, and that’s something I watch out for, too. When a manager or top exec doesn’t truly foster that environment, it’s just not a fun or interesting challenge.

        • @JoeCardillo I don’t know what I’d do if I had to go work for someone again. I’d be way too picky.

  • Sometimes would-be-leaders are just like politicians, they are not at all interested in listening but only in “being the boss”. Which is a pretty unwise way to do business because your team is involved and usually interested in having a healthy business so listening to them Toyota-style should be the first thing to do.
    Unfortunately many are bosses but few are leaders. 🙂

    • @Andrea T.H.W. So, so true. Many are not taught how to lead, but how to micromanage and not trust people. It makes me crazy to hear some of the stories my friends tell about their bosses. I would not stay in a job if I were treated the way some of them are.

    • @Andrea T.H.W.
       How right you are! A LEADER IS NOT PAID FOR WHAT HE DOES – RATHER HE IS PAID FOR WHAT HE CAN GET OTHERS TO DO. In order to do that he must a. Knows himself, b. Know his people, c. Know his job. (Not necessarily in that order. Unlike a CEO/boss whose primary interest is the bottom line – people be damned.

  • animal

    Shut up and kiss me – leadership lessons from Bill Clinton @jkcallas @ginidietrich –

  • anasebrahem

    @InaBansal good article 🙂 “To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.”

    • InaBansal

      @anasebrahem yeah true that! 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @InaBansal Thank you!

    • InaBansal

      @ginidietrich cheers! 🙂

  • seanmcginnis

    @HollyKatko @ginidietrich Thanks for sharing Holly. Good morning!

    • HollyKatko

      @seanmcginnis Good Day in this snowstorm in Chicago!

  • Gini Dietrich

    LOL Melanie! I’ve always been a good listener because I was so painfully shy for most of my life (obviously outgrew that). But the hard part is asking questions instead of giving answers.

  • I find that “I don’t know, what do you think?” is one of a leader’s most powerful questions. It saves you a lot of work AND it enables you to gauge the judgment and skills of your team members in a safe environment where they can still use your experience to course correct.
    That @4thGear he’s a smart guy!

    • @blfarris  I like the fail safely mantra a lot. We all make mistakes, but if an organization punishes you for them, you don’t ever learn and nothing new is ever created.

    • @blfarris   Well said.
      I once had a creative director who put a little spin on the “What do you think” question. We went to show him advertising concepts that were due to be presented in a day. He looked at them and said, “These are pretty good. Do you think they’re great?”
      Well no, not exactly great, but not bad. “If you had another day to really work on it, do you think you could come up with something great?”  HELL YEAH!!
      And you know, it worked. What we came up with in the extra day blew away what we had at first. Effective leadership in action.

      • @barrettrossie  @blfarris You know, that reminds me of a supervisor I had who wanted me to sell her on why everything I wrote was my best to date. In order to that, of course, I had to believe it was my best.

  • blfarris

    @ginidietrich I couldn’t find your comment, but I liked the post and left you one anyway.

  • Melanie Tolley Hall

    I’ll do better, I promise ….

  • AllyShoshana

    RT @barrettrossie: Shut Up: How Great Leaders Listen via @ginidietrich < I can use this… << me too.

  • You just nailed my favorite type of leader: someone who actually listens and solicits feedback/ideas. Bonus points that they let you complete your thought before interrupting…even if they’ve already formulated a response before you finish speaking.
    Listening is a high form of respect, and it is *always* appreciated. It is also an acquired skill by some – me included…I used to be terrible at finishing people’s thoughts.

    • @dbvickery  Sometimes I find myself interrupting, especially if I’m busy or overly tired. But I’m super conscientious about it and try really, really hard not to do it.

  • ThomasJeffries3

    @tedcoine @ginidietrich People have forgotten how to stop and listen. Look at how distracted people are. All walking down the street on Ph.

    • ginidietrich

      @ThomasJeffries3 There is a great video that shows how “connected” we are but we’re all on our phones

  • NewBusinessHawk

    The simple truth is very few of us were taught good listening skills. What we call active listening, where you not just ‘hear’ what’s being said, but improve its quality and quantity. This is the most effective way to improve decision-making… 
    I wrote something very much along the same lines here:

    • @NewBusinessHawk And it goes against some personality types to actively listen (or listen at all). You’re right…it’s definitely something that needs to be learned.

  • Gloria Miele PhD

    Great leaders are great coaches too, and what you’re describing is solid coaching technique.  Nice post.

    • @Gloria Miele PhD  Someone said on Facebook, “Why didn’t you title this coaching?” Um… I guess I didn’t think about it. So thank you for keeping that thought in my head!

  • SpinSucks

    SageOneNA Great tips in this one…thanks for sharing!

  • SpinSucks

    millipedemedia I’m not the best listener and this was a wake up call to that! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • millipedemedia

      SpinSucks Me either…but I really really try! Good piece and a good one to share.

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