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It’s not how you listen but why

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Are you listening carefully? Then you’re missing the point, say two young business leaders in their book on decision-making. The point isn’t how you listen but why.

Most leaders go into a meeting and put on their “usual listening act,” shutting the door, looking people in the eye, taking a few notes and parroting back what they hear every so often.

But you probably don’t listen with a purpose, and that’s the point.

Before the meeting started, did you know why you would be listening? Did you think through what you wanted to know and why you would be asking? Were you ready to get the most out of this time together?

You have three main reasons for listening:

1. To gather information—and more specifically, to fill gaps in the information you already have.

2. To learn how to identify “hot spots” and to communicate without instilling fear or removing motivation.

3. To help generate ownership among those who will carry out a decision, because a great decision that isn’t executed is no decision. As trite as it sounds, you do need buy-in.

— Adapted from How the Wise Decide: The Lessons of 21 Extraordinary Leaders, Bryn Zeckhauser and Aaron Sandoski, Crown Business.

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