Deep Listening and Leadership

Listening is one of the most valuable soft skills

Vincent Vicari, MPA
3 min readSep 11, 2022

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Have you ever truly listened to someone? I don’t mean simply nodding in agreement or giving the occasional “mm-hmm” or “uh-huh.” I mean truly listening to another person.

Allowing another person to have your undivided attention is a generous, respectful, kind thing to do. Deeply listening to someone is also something that separates great leaders from average leaders.

The skill of listening is one we all think we have. Let’s be honest, most of us think we are really good listeners.

We’re not. I’m not, you’re not. Our kids certainly are not.

The good news is developing the soft skill to deeply listen to someone is something we can learn. It’s a lesson in personal growth and professional development.

Get ready to be humbled.

Benefits of Deep Listening

Think about the last time you really listened to someone, even if it was half listening. What did you get out of the experience?

A better understanding of the other perspective? Improved relationships? Better business outcomes?

When we practice deep listening, we are fully engaged. We’re not simply using our ears. It’s a whole-body experience.

We’re looking the other person in the eye. We’re using an open, welcoming stance. We’ve removed all our distractions, yes, your phone.

You’re still engaged with the “mm-hmm,” and the “uh-huh’s,” but they now have true meaning. You’re asking questions, you seek clarification, and you’re able to repeat back to the speaker.

You are engaged and learning. The other person is feeling respected, heard, and engaged as well.

How to Listen Deeply

This shortlist is bound to miss a few things, but these are the steps I personally use to practice deep listening:

  1. Remove all distractions. Put your phone down, and stop writing or clicking away. Caveat: only keep what you need if you are going to take notes on the conversation. If not, put it all down.
  2. Look at the person. Look them in the…

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Vincent Vicari, MPA

Artist, illustrator, and writer on Personal Development, Leadership, and Creativity. See more at https://vincentvicariart.com