Some leaders like to disagree or offer a competing view so much that they jump the gun. They don’t wait to understand, listen, or even for the other party to finish speaking. Their minds work so quickly that they can’t postpone their need to express what they’re thinking, even for a moment. While this is a sign of a facile mind, it also puts them at a distinct disadvantage.
They rarely fully understand what others are saying.
This is a habit that is exceedingly hard to break for those who engage in it. Even leaders who know they do this and want to make a change find it difficult to curtail their enthusiasm for speaking their mind.
Regulating this dysfunctional behavior requires doing something else at the very nanosecond the urge to interject takes place. Simply attempting to refrain from this tendency will likely fail. The choice to instantly chime in must be replaced with a better behavior.
Leaders who are excellent listeners provide a great example of a replacement behavior. Observe those leaders who hold strong opinions but who refrain from interrupting, talking over, and quickly disagreeing with others, and you will notice a simple expression that aids their listening. They have trained themselves to make a request the moment they think they disagree or feel as if their understanding is not complete.
They ask people to “say more.”
While this sounds trivial, asking others to “say more” is a masterful pathway to better listening … and much more. When leaders ask others to expand upon a point, they enhance clarity and buy themselves the time to respond in the most persuasive way. Better yet, they encourage others to be complete and make the full argument for whatever it is they are advocating for.
Of course, there are a myriad of expressions that ask people to say more. “Tell me more,” “Elaborate on that,” “Don’t stop yet,” “Please expand on that idea,” “Keep talking.”
Listening with the intent of replying undermines the ability of leaders to fully understand. Wisdom is the reward for slowing down and allowing others to complete their thoughts by asking them to say more.