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Simple Ways to Create a Culture of Listening


When we feel heard, we feel good. Whether you’re the type of person who always speaks their mind or prefers to save their opinions for select instances, we can all agree that we feel valued when people listen to us. Katie Sanders’ article, 6 Ways to Get People to Listen to You (Fast Company) gives the reader tips on ways to command an audience and have your message really land with others.

In a quick snapshot, the points Sanders makes are:

  1. Always be present and prepared
  2. Practice gratitude and empathy towards your audience
  3. Be self-aware of your communication weaknesses
  4. Value silence and pauses when speaking
  5. Ensure follow-ups are timely and intentional
  6. Have faith in yourself as a speaker

While we agree with Sanders’ tips, we also think there’s an opportunity to pause and reframe the situation.Of course, part of being heard comes from the individual and their strong communication skills—but what is the role of organizational culture? We also must strive to create working environments that welcome honesty, invite new perspectives, and listen to people. The onus is not just on the individual. The workplace needs to function as a cohesive space rather than a collection of many different people.

So how do you create a culture of listening? It’s no small effort to impact culture. That said, there are small steps you can take to contribute to a culture that hears everyone:

    1. Manage emotional reactivity. New ideas and challenges to common beliefs can be painful to hear. Upon hearing something unpleasant, many of us have strong, emotional reactions that can be hard to control. It’s important to EXPECT emotional reactions to open dialogue. When those emotions present themselves, acknowledge them, pause before reacting, and try to choose a response that that supports an environment of candor. Remember that challenges, new ideas, and even conflict—while uncomfortable—are part of a healthy workplace.
  1. Adapt to the work style of others. When people adapt their communication approach with the other person in mind, more effective interactions can take place. DiSC provides a tool that makes this type of adaptation tangible. Some examples by style include:
    • When talking to a D style, make efficient use of time, stay focused, and expect blunt truthfulness.
    • When communicating with an i-style, support their enthusiasm, and be open to collaboration.
    • When speaking to an S style, show concern for their feelings, and take an easy-going approach.
    • When connecting with a C style, keep the message objective and expect skepticism.
  2. Reward candor. If you are a manager or leader in an organization, you play an important role in shaping cultural norms. If you seek to create work environments where people openly share their ideas, it’s important to reward candor. Saying “thank you” or “that’s a great perspective” can go a long way.

We understand changing cultural norms is easier said than done (big time!). An Everything DiSC learning experience can serve as a catalyst to your culture change endeavor by making behavior changes possible. Each Everything DiSC experience will help participants:

  • Deepen their understanding of self and others
  • Apply common language to complex, behavioral differences
  • Offer personalized and specific action plans to help practice new behaviors

An established culture of listening ensures that listening is reciprocated throughout the organization, improving morale and creating a safe space to share concerns and opinions. While we often take on the assumption that getting others to listen is all on us, in reality, it’s a workplace culture that makes all the difference in being heard.

Everything DiSC®, with its award-winning Authorized Partner network, is a global leader in delivering personalized, soft skills learning experiences that have an immediate and lasting impact on the performance of people and cultures of organizations.

To discover how Everything DiSC can inspire a culture of listening, connect with me today. laura@lauraadavis.com 

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