When your people talk, do you listen? It is interesting to notice that the word “listen” is an anagram for “silent”…same letters, different order. Perhaps there is a subliminal message there! When you take the time to drop everything, look someone in the eye, and say, “I am listening,” you empower that person in a way that goes beyond words. It is important to remember that the best supporter is not the one with the loudest voice, but the readiest ear.
Here is the paradox of empowerment: the moment you truly begin to empower someone, you empower yourself. If listening does not come naturally to you, then remember that you must be silent to listen. Each meeting, fellow members give out hundreds of cues about how they feel and what they are thinking…cues you may miss if you are not listening. Use these cues to empower them, to encourage their efforts and to believe in themselves. It is important that we use our ears first, and the influence of our voices later!
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Ralph G Nichols
You cannot be a good listener if you are doing all the talking. While listening is only one of a number of important skills necessary to empower others, it may be the most critical. The beauty of empowerment is in creating an environment where we feel valued and free to take initiative. The more they are willing to actively listen to each other, the more chapter members will coach one another, motivate one another, confront one another (kindly) and bond into the strongest team.
Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.