To listen or not to listen!
As a 2019 ANLP delegate, I was amazed at how quickly my listening skills were put into action. First I had to listen on the high ropes. I mean hell, I did not want to take any chances up there! But real listening should not only happen when we feel under threat.
Developing into a leader, means developing your listening skills. This was emphasised in a TED Talk by Ernesto Sirolli, explaining what he learnt while working in Africa - “If you want to help someone, shut up and listen.” (Watch it here).
Communication is both an art and a skill. If you expect someone to listen, then to you need to learn how to use your voice to call for action amongst those to whom you are speaking. You need to ensure your message is loud and clear – heard and seen. My challenge, I have learnt is when to listen and when not to listen. It became clear, that the Buffalo team members refused to listen to each other when it came to delivering on team tasks in the games specifically designed to test team planning and listening skills. We were all THE leader. We were all leading at the same time. We were all instructing but none of us were listening. The result – we did not do well AND we frustrated each other. The lesson – leaders know when to lead and listen and when to listen and be led.
Then finally after 6 days of intense learning, we headed out for an afternoon of ‘time out’. We listened, but I now realise, did not hear the instruction - ‘meet here at 16h30.’ More frustration and not the display of lead from where you stand. Yes we are just beginners but awareness is the first step to growth.. Fast forward, we arrive at the restaurant where we were having dinner. Drinks first outside, but then came the rain and the instruction to “swallow”. This time everyone listened – were our listening skills improving or did we all want to just get out of the rain and into the restaurant?
Now with entrance granted to the restaurant, the chocolates on the table were inviting even though the food was yet to be served. One of the team can’t resist but in her haste the chocolate drops to the floor. Forlorn she stares at the unwrapped chocolate lying on the floor. Some shout ‘remember the 20 second rule’ (apparently you can still eat something safely after it has been on the floor for 20 seconds). She does not hear us. Then a smile comes to her face and she looks up and says “Rule #6”, bends down and quickly places the piece of confectionary into her mouth. Her eyes close, she take a big breath and silently ENJOYS.
Moral of the story: “If you see a chocolate don’t delay, devour it before it falls.” No, in reality I think this saying is what the ANLP is in fact teaching us - “Listening is being able to be changed by the other person” (Alan Alda).