How to Get Someone to Listen

How many times have you caught yourself reacting to someone’s problem with giving advice and found the person quickly shut down on you? It has likely happened to all of us. Often times the more we force our fix on people the more they push away. Also the more we feel the regret in our own lives, the more we want to push someone else not to make the same mistake.

Recently while talking with a young 30 something about to have her first baby girl, I asked her how long she was going to take off work.

She replied, “I am not. I have set up a crib here at work and since it is a family business my Mom is going to come in and help watch her here.”

I wanted to reach over the table and grab her and say, “What are you thinking!! Listen to me! You need that bonding time with that little baby. You need to just hold her and do nothing else. You won’t be able to get that time back!!” It saddened me to think of her missing out on that time.

While I did refrain from reaching over the table to grab her, I did not stop my outburst. With a caring yet forceful voice I said, “from hard-working career mom to hard-working career women I urge you to take that time. You will not get it back!”

As you can imagine, it was not well received. She replied with her reasons for not being able to afford to take time off given she did not have those benefits.

“Your world is about to be rocked!” I remarked. Obviously, I let my internal regrets go too far.

Instantly her body language shut down and signaled to me my comments were unwanted. I quickly realized I had forgotten how I had perceived similar advice of people trying to get me to take twelve weeks instead of six when I had my daughters. I had reflected on how I had worked from home, packed for the newly built house we were moving into, then returned to work upon her being six weeks old. I had returned to work the Monday after the move an emotional wreck.  The stress of all of that had lead to eye twitches, exhaustion, and depression. While I did have some time to bond it had not been enough between all the packing and distractions.  All I had wanted to do was hold my baby girl. She is now 18 and about to leave for college this year. My own internal ugliness and regret was pushed onto her.

While all of that was so real to me I forgot to view how advice from a stranger likely sounded like I thought she was naive. As much as I already knew how important it is to not shove my own mistakes and experience onto someone else, I didn’t approach her as I had been trained.

Sharing wisdom can be a difficult balance. If we don’t share it we feel we aren’t helping. If we do share it before the person is ready we get a reaction from their pride saying to us that they aren’t as naive as we must think they are. We can then take offense when people do not listen to us. So what are we to do with the knowledge we have gained from our own experiences? What can we do to prevent others from hurting by making similar mistakes?

In this instance, after realizing I had reacted versus responded I apologized and asked her to please forgive me. I shared how I remember being in her shoes and hearing all kinds of advice and how it had annoyed me at the time. I went on to say I had just spoken out of my own regrets of not listening to people trying to get me to take twelve weeks instead of six. I didn’t mean to force my opinion the way I did. I explained my story of working from home and moved and how I had wished I had taken that time. When my approach was through a story of my own experience rather than an aggressive instruction, she replied, “It sounds like we do have things in common because I am trying to move into a new house too.”

Her nonverbal cues showed she understood I was speaking out of sincerity and my experience was better received. I then had to let go and know she would choose her own path.

Oftentimes we assume by us telling someone what to do that person will change their outcome. We may think there is something wrong with us that they don’t want to listen to our advice. However, in reality, they are just sitting from a different viewpoint. They may even need time to process what we have shared.

All we can really do is listen ourselves, ask thought-provoking questions, rephrase what we hear them feeling about their situation and how we understand.  We need to discover if they have already searched for answers to their own problems. Once we show we care enough to understand them, only then can we ask if they are open to suggestions. After sharing our experience we then have to let go of what they choose to do with that wisdom. We can not let ourselves get affected by the outcome given that is out of our control.

On the reverse end, when someone gives us advice, we need to remember that it is being served based on that person’s own regrets and experience. It is also typically being shared out of their sincerity and concern so remember to keep our pride in check.

Consider thanking them for their insight and say, “I hear what you are saying and will give some thought to your advice.” We may even want to consider asking them what it is about their experience that makes them feel so passionate as we could learn something from another’s life story.  Ask internally, “is their advice something I should consider?”

In either situation when we actively listen we end up being more connected to other people which gives deeper meaning to life. We also end as healthier versions of ourselves!

Photograph on way to Lake Tahoe from Reno, Nevada

How to Improve Your Relationships

In “Winning with People,” John Maxwell says the best way to be interesting is to be interested.

When is the last time you had someone really listen to you? Who is it that makes you feel heard and interesting? Who gives you their full attention and makes you feel understood?

The person who takes an interest in you makes you feel incredible, don’t they?  You feel heard and seen, finally understood and important! Yet people who have a genuine interest in hearing your life story, digging into the layers of who you are, and work to understand you beyond the surface are hard to find. When you do find them, don’t they make you want to be around them all the time based on how they make you feel?

In counseling, active listening is the key element in what makes people feel better. Just being able to talk with someone who will really listen, not judge and help them feel understood can be a huge step toward healing them. It is very rewarding to see the effects an interested person has on them.

When you first met your spouse, remember how it felt when they wanted to get to know you and you looked directly into each other’s eyes when talking rather than dealing with all the distractions such as a TV, kids interrupting and work demands taking your full attention away from them?  Remember how interested you were in their stories for the first time and how you made the other feel?

As a parent, when you give your kids their full attention and don’t start immediate lecturing and stop to listen fully to them, it is amazing the difference you see in your child.

At work, when a manager listens to an employee’s problems and finds out if they need support or direction many times the employee has solutions to their own problems or may just have needed a sounding board.

When salespeople get a client talking about their business they can go on and on about their passions. Salespeople who show a genuine interest in their client’s business and their life story make the prospect want to see that salesperson again.

On the contrary, lack of listening is one of the key reason’s for marital disputes, children not feeling important to their parents, leadership mistakes and why some salespeople fail. Don’t you hate it when someone does not look into your eyes when you are trying to talk with them? Also, the natural tendency is for people to wait for their turn to talk. We have all been guilty of bad listening and yet hate when someone else doesn’t listen to us.

Active listening is when you are truly engaged in someone else’s story and you seek to understand them. Rather than replying with your own story, instead respond with “it sounds like you (then share what you hear them feeling) are really passionate about x.” You may hear that person say, yes!  That’s right!  I do feel…  If you got their feeling wrong, then you can then have them clarify rather than make the wrong assumption.  The next time someone tells you something, look at what they are telling you like a flower where there is more to discover underneath the petals. When you show you are hearing how that person is feeling watch how it ignites them as they realize you get them. That, in turn, solidifies a connection. Who doesn’t love feeling connected to other people?

You may be asking, but how do I teach other people to listen to me?  Wisdom from many books and therapists say the best way to influence others is when we lead by example. I know it can be frustrating.  Yet isn’t it worth it to improve our relationships?

While active listening can be very hard, it can be learned. It requires being intentional and also takes practice. When we make the concentrated effort to practice this way of listening genuinely and not for manipulation purposes, we will find more fulfilling conversations. We will also see a response in people that will help us enjoy other people’s stories and develop deeper more connected relationships.

Would you like to learn and practice your active listening skills? Join me in becoming a better active listener and please share if you would be interested in participating in a workshop.  Please note in the comments the best times and hours that would work for you.

 

Find Freedom from Controlling Behaviors

It was August of 1997.  I was 24 years old, extremely motivated, and trying to make a living in sales. A business client had called for an appointment and gave me an address regarding where to meet. When I arrived, I said to myself, “This can’t be right.” The address is a house. I called the number again.  The client verified that was the meeting place. According to my notes, there were supposed to be multiple people in this meeting. Again, I said to myself, “Why aren’t there any cars? This doesn’t feel right.”  Convincing myself that I needed the business, I went to the door anyway.

I knocked on the door and the client answered.  I felt somewhat relieved that he answered the door.  I knew him. He had gotten married recently and was very happy when I worked with him a year ago. We had made small talk waiting on the other people to arrive.  He recognized my discomfort due to his shaven head and twitching face. He shared he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and it was very serious.

As time started to lapse, I looked at the clock.  My fiance was going to start wondering where I was.  I had grown even more uncomfortable as time passed.  I wondered how much longer it would take for the others to arrive.  After declining his offer for a glass of water, he asked if I wanted to see the blueprints for the business. Again, I ignored my instincts.  I entered the room to look at the architect table. There was nothing on the table. When I turned to look at the client, he was holding a revolver.

Rather than listening to myself, I ignored my inner voice. As he said “I am not going to kill you or rape you” I turned my head to see the revolver pointed at me. Instantly, I went into hysterics. He closed the door and moved me towards the back of the room.

“Take your clothes off.” He said.

I immediately envisioned myself taking off my clothes and that not being enough for him. I saw images of him asking me to do things I did not want to do and him eventually taking my life. I saw my dead naked body lying on the floor, and my loved ones finding out I was found lifeless and without my clothes in some strange house. I felt if he wanted all that he would have to take my clothes off after I was no longer alive. I said to myself, “My life is not ending this way. I have so many more dreams to fulfill.”

Somehow, I found the power within and decided to reason and plead with him. “Why are you doing this? What about your wife? I am not going to… You can kill me first.”

He replied, “I will cripple you.”

I said, “I don’t care if you kill me or cripple me.”

As he started to explain himself, “It is just that this tumor…” Right then, his twitches in his face and clicks of his head that I had witnessed earlier came back. I continued to plea and refuse to give in to his demands. I noticed that I was emotionally getting to him.

Suddenly, he turned the gun on himself.  While frightened he would take his own life in front of me, I saw my window of opportunity to escape.  Quickly, I went towards him as he backed himself up towards the door.  I grabbed the doorknob with my left hand and was able to wedge it open enough to get my leg in through the opening. Meanwhile, I pushed my right hand towards his face in an attempt to move the gun away from his own mouth. Somehow I was able to get out, grab my bag and keys and run out the door to my car while my whole body was shaking. He did not follow me.  I began driving and frantically called 911. They directed me towards a local fire department for safety. I repeated the story multiple times of how I ended up in that house.

In the end, after police had surrounded his house and tried to get him to come out for hours, he ended his own life that night.

I had made multiple very risky decisions that day.  I was thankful to be alive. I questioned myself. I worried about what people would think.  I thought, “Why was I so gullible? Why did he pick me?  Was there something I did that made me seem vulnerable?” I could never even face his wife to see how she handled all of it. I felt sad for her and envisioned him being sorry for what he had done to me. Truth is, I will never really know why or fully understand. Why would anyone choose to sabotage someone else’s life?

Often times, people attempt to control others when they feel powerless in their own lives.  The more we feel we have lost control, the more we want to try and control others.

After talking to my sister-in-law who is well versed in mental health, she helped me understand it was not my fault.  Being able to talk with someone helped me be able to focus on what could come from the experience. She helped me understand that some brain tumors cause irrational behavior. It was not about me. I was proud of how I had been brave enough to escape. I also learned that I need to listen to my gut instincts.

When sharing my story, some questioned why I didn’t just do what he said. You may even be questioning some of the same things and wonder why I am sharing this story.

While I was not a victim of rape, I felt the extreme case of having someone try to control me by force at a relatively young age.  I felt the side effects. My purpose is not to gain pity here. My purpose is to increase awareness and help you prevent being controlled. To teach you how to stop your own ineffective habits of controlling behaviors.    There are some lessons to be learned from this story, and others I have experienced in my life as both the victim and the controller.

Through professional help and research, I have learned how to identify signs of controlling behavior,  the reasons behind it, how to overcome situations of being controlled and recognize when I am the person doing the controlling.  By sharing my findings, may you learn some skills to find freedom from this controlling behavior as well as know where to go for additional resources that go beyond my experience.

Let’s start by helping you identify situations where someone has tried to control you or you have controlled someone else.  Can you think of times when someone used force, guilt or fear to get you to do something? How did it make you feel?

For example, as common as someone saying:

“If you can’t do this, then you must not want to be the best and accept mediocrity.”

“I have done so much for you, you mean you can’t even do this for me? Guess I don’t mean enough to you.”

Have you been the person who has tried to force your power over another person by saying things like:

“If you don’t I will…”

“Do …because I said so.”

To help you identify controlling behaviors, Andrea Bonier Ph.D. has as a blog in Psychology Today where she states: “Controlling people often know how to fly under the radar and how to make themselves look good. They can be skilled in manipulating the people they are dating into thinking that their friends and family must be wrong or jealous or overprotective. Controlling people may try to leave trails of “evidence” that they are good partners, and fool you into thinking that they only have your best interests at heart. And they can be adept at making you doubt and second-guess your instincts when your alarm bells do finally go off.”

Here are the 20 signs from Dr. Bonier that indicate your Partner is Controlling:

1) Isolating you from friends and family.

2) Chronic criticism—even if it’s ‘small’ things.

3) Veiled or overt threats, against you or them.

4) Making acceptance/caring/attraction conditional.

5) An overactive scorecard.

6) Using guilt as a tool.

7) Creating a debt you’re beholden to.

8) Spying, snooping or requiring constant disclosure.

9) Overactive jealousy, accusations, or paranoia.

10) Not respecting your need for time alone.

11) Making you “earn” trust or other good treatment.

12) Presuming you guilty until proven innocent.

13) Getting you so tired of arguing that you’ll relent.

14) Making you feel belittled for long-held beliefs.

15) Making you feel you don’t “measure up” or are unworthy of them.

16) Teasing or ridicule that has an uncomfortable undercurrent

17) Sexual interactions that feel upsetting afterward.

18) Inability or unwillingness to ever hear your point of view.

19) Pressuring you toward unhealthy behaviors, like substance abuse.

20) Thwarting your professional or educational goals by making you doubt yourself.

To give you an understanding of the scale of people who may have experienced controlling behaviors, I would like to share data from Hotline.org.  In January 2019,  nearly half of all women and men in the United States reported that they have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively). This does not include physical abuse.  1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year according to Loveisrespect.org.  NCADV reports on average 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.  On a typical day, 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

In business, I have witnessed many situations that left me appalled.  Once, a manager called in his female subordinate into his office after failing to get me to tell him he was good-looking.  He said to her, “Tell me I am incredibly handsome.”  She did and he found entertainment in his power to get her to fulfill his demand.  He thought he was funny. After she left that company, I ran into her later and she said that was the least of the demeaning requests she had to deal with while working for him.  He may not have realized that his humor was only funny to him. There are many other stories of women in sales who have to deal with clients who make inappropriate requests in order for the client to buy their product. I will refrain from sharing the vulgar details. With the “me too” movement, it is no secret.

In a Moneyish article, seven women tell Moneyish how they handled harassment and assault on the job — and what they wish they’d done differently.  On October 17, 2017,  Meera Jagannathan reports: “About 40% of women report experiencing unwanted sexual attention or coercion at work and nearly 60% say they’ve endured workplace gender harassment, according to a 2016 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report.” At the time of the article, there were over 52k likes on Alyssa Milano’s Tweet feed based on her request for people to speak up.

When people I know or in the news share their story, they express feelings of shame, not knowing what to do, and inability to express how it made them feel. In many situations, people feel trapped.  In work environments, people feel if they report it they will be seen as weak.  In cases where women have taken their case to Human Resources, the problem has not always been solved.  There are stories of legal services even discouraging women from filing lawsuits as it goes on public record and then deters future employers from hiring them.  In 2016 Cynthia Shapiro, a Human Resources expert and author of “Corporate Confidential’ published an article in ABC News Opinion section: What You Need to Know Before Filing a Sexual Harassment Complaint.  She wrote, “even though sexual harassment is strictly illegal, many companies tell employees to notify right away because they want to get ahead of, and hopefully squelch, a potentially damaging legal issue for the company.”  She goes on to say, “The harsh reality is that many employees who file claims of sexual harassment find themselves discounted, sidelined and even managed out or fired.”

Now that you have seen some statistics to show the massive amount of people who have been a victim of abuse and unwanted sexual attention, imagine how many more people have been impacted by controlling behaviors.

In order to be able to respond to the behavior, you must first seek to understand why the person is trying to control you. To do that, Sarah Newman M.A. MFA Publisher of Psych Central in her blog “Why Would Anyone Want to Control You” says:

“People who can’t control themselves turn to control others. This happens on an emotional level. A person full of insecurities has to exact a positive sense of self from other people because their self-esteem is too low to do it for themselves.”

“People control because they are afraid of being abandoned. They don’t feel secure in their relationships and are often testing to see if they’re about to be betrayed. The paradox is that their behavior creates exactly what they fear the most.”

When you recognize it is about them and not about you, it gives you a power within to figure out the person’s motivations. It stops you from giving in to their demands. In the situation with the person who was suffering from a brain tumor, he had no power over it and therefore possibly wanted to exert power over someone else in hopes it would make him feel better.  In the situation of the client needing to hear he was good-looking, it was truly because he was going through a divorce and was not feeling secure in himself.  He needed boosts to his ego. In other sexual assault cases, there are obviously more issues involved that I am not prepared to address.

In most cases, once you recognize the root of the problem with someone who you notice is controlling, you can start identifying what will work best. Preston Ni M.S.B.A. lists the following excerpts from his book How to Successfully Handle Aggressive and Controlling People in his blog which I highly recommend and can be found in my resources section:

1.    Keep Your Cool and Maintain Composure

2.    Keep Your Distance and Keep Your Options Open

3.    Depersonalize and Shift from Reactive to Proactive

4.    Know Your Fundamental Human Rights

5.    Put the Spotlight on Them & Reclaim Your Power

6.    In Relatively Mild Situations, Display Superior Composure Through Appropriate Humor

7.    In Serious Situations, Set Consequences to Compel Cooperation

Preston says in his blog, “to know how to handle aggressive, intimidating, and controlling people is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess.”

In the case of the client who needed to hear he was good-looking, I could have better handled the situation by asking, “why do you need me to say you are good looking to feel like you are?”  In instances where someone has tried to demean you, you could say “I do not deserve to be treated this way, is there something bothering you?”  If the behavior continues, set a boundary by saying something like, “If you continue to talk to me disrespectfully, I will begin to avoid you.”

In more severe situations that I have witnessed in the counseling sessions where the individual has shown controlling behavior or even abusive behavior, it was common that they handled all the finances and safety was a concern.  In these extreme situations, the control seeker has wanted a spouse who does not work so they have financial control over them. The women then stay in abusive relationships because they don’t have the ability to move out financially.  If you are in a situation like this, make sure you become informed and are at least aware of account balances, account numbers, and passwords.  It is crucial you stay educated.  If that is not possible and you are one of those women in a living arrangement where you feel you are in danger call for help.  National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE.

If you are stuck with an extremely controlling person in a business situation and none of the above methods of communication have worked, look at your options rather than suffering and doing things that conflict with your value system.  If it is a client, go to your manager and explain the situation and see if there are options for account transfers.  If the manager doesn’t support you then report it to your Human Resources office.  If your company doesn’t have one or you are afraid of the repercussions, then look for other positions.  In my experience, if the manager is someone who cares about you, they will work to help you.

Given not all work environments are healthy where some managers and the leaders at the top work to control their employees and put them down versus providing constructive criticism, you may also feel trapped in your job.  You may think it is you.  There may also be times where you do need coaching.   However, good managers will praise in public and critique in private.  If they are saying things that only bring you down in front of your peers and others, that is a sign that the manager may be the problem.  Also if what they say isn’t helpful and beats you down more than coaches you to be better, than you may need to examine your situation closer.  Your gut will tell you if it is truly you or if others around you are experiencing the same problems. You have choices.   First work to address it with the person.  For example, you could say in a one on one, yet safe setting, “I know I have some areas where I can improve.  When you used the terms “…”  what did you really mean by that?   Next time could you help me understand exactly how to get better?”  If you are in an extreme situation where you are feeling controlled to do inappropriate things please see https://www.eeoc.gov.

On the reverse end, I have learned lessons about my own controlling behavior, which I utilized without realizing it and its consequences.  In my counseling lessons at Southbrook Church, Randy Creamer has explained “the more influence you have in a relationship, the less you need to control. And the more control you use, the less influence you probably have.” He made me start listening to how I interact with my daughters. He made me realize there were times I was using guilt as a way to get them to do something or even talk with me. It became obvious that the more I tried to control, the more I pushed them away. When I started to give them the freedom to choose and listened and asked questions instead there was less fighting. I started explaining WHY it was important to do something to get them on board in a positive way.  I worked to show unconditional love regardless of their choice. It is sometimes hard. Yet it is critical.

Randy shared how based on his counseling experience and studies if we control our kids, they will learn to accept being controlled as adults. They will not learn to make choices on their own and it can hurt their self-esteem. So instead of forcing decisions on them, teach them to stand up for themselves, learn self-defense, set boundaries and also model the behavior you want for them.

In addition, it is important to teach children to work to understand the person hurting them.  Getting them to understand “hurting people hurt people” has helped my daughters remember to be compassionate and to not take things personally. They will now remind me of it when I need to be reminded.

As you start to be more aware of areas where you can improve even if you aren’t extreme, know it isn’t too late to change.  I have not always made the best choices, however, I now have techniques I have been practicing that are making differences in my struggles of control. Brene Brown makes a great point in her book I Thought It Was Just Me, but it Isn’t. She says “When we have our self-worth rising on the realization of something that we can’t control, we put our self-worth in jeopardy.”

What do you do when someone doesn’t do what you want? What style do you use with your children? Your spouse? Your employees? If you notice you are controlling as defined above, seek counseling if necessary. Uncover why you feel you need to have power over people.

If you are a manager that struggles with not being able to get their employees to do what is needed, don’t fall back on using forceful, threatening or demeaning remarks. It has negative effects on the person’s morale and kills the person’s desire to want to work for you.  While it is important to hold people accountable, it is ineffective in the long run to add demeaning comments that take a strike at the person’s worth. Rather than saying “you are lazy” a more constructive way of motivating someone would be to say, “You are not showing your full potential.  You are capable of so much more.”

For those in leadership, are you keeping an eye on how your managers treat those working for you?  What about how they treat your business partner representatives?  How they treat people is a reflection of your company’s image and could be costly to your business in turnover, your reputation with customers and maybe even lawsuits.  Be sure to have your employees do anonymous surveys.  Have someone secret shop, play vendor or play undercover boss for the day if you suspect anyone who could threaten your company’s values.

Whether you are the controller or being controlled, help is available.  You are worthy of so much more.  No one deserves to be treated as beneath another person.  You deserve to be treated with respect.  Be sure to look yourself in the mirror and reassure yourself of all your incredible traits.  Make a list of all your great qualities to reframe your mind and maintain your boundaries.  You have the right to have your own value system and maintain your self-worth.  Be brave enough to address the problem.  If safety is a concern, find support.

Other resources:

For more help with a controlling partner, I recommend Dr. Bonier’s blog: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/friendship-20/201506/20-signs-your-partner-is-controlling

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201409/how-successfully-handle-aggressive-and-controlling-people

For more help handling Aggressive and Controlling people see Preston’s blog: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201409/how-successfully-handle-aggressive-and-controlling-people:

Southbrook counseling – https://southbrook.org/ministries/

Boundaries By Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Www.ndvh.org

If you are a victim of Sexual Violence or Trauma, please seek your local counseling services.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the best way to handle yourself in a sexual assault situation or when someone is threatening your life.  Please see http://www.rainn.org or NSVRC. or http://www.cdc.gov

https://www.thehotline.org/2018/10/08/national-domestic-violence-hotline-and-avon-partner-with-suze-orman-to-shed-light-on-financial-abuse-in-special-video-series-women-breaking-free-stories-of-strength-from-survivors-of-domest/

Leadership for the Soul

 

Mindtools.com says “Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people. In the transformational leadership model, leaders set direction and help themselves and others to do the right thing to move forward. To do this they create an inspiring vision, and then motivate and inspire others to reach that vision.”

How is that done?

You may have heard the quote, “no one cares about how much you know unless they know how much you care.”  Can you be defined as a leader if you don’t ever get followers?  It seems the best leaders show how much they care about their mission.  Then the ones who show they care about their people get the most people on board.

Think of the best leaders in ancient wars.  Those who you see in the movies that are charging ahead of their troops to fight a battle.  The ones who get out in front.  They are in the trenches with their people.  When you see that in a movie, doesn’t it ignite your passion internally to want to see their side win?

Besides leading the way, how else do those leaders get people on board?  We see characteristics as being comfortable in their own skin, confident in who they are, strong in their decision making, have integrity and base decisions on the betterment of all their people.  They make their team feel valued that someone else is willing to fight on their behalf.  It makes them all want to win together.

What kind of leader are you?  How do you show you care about your people? When your people are trying to voice what they are experiencing in the trenches, do you shut them down?  If so, instead:

  • Work to listen and understand if it is a legitimate concern.
  • Rephrase what you are hearing them feel.
  • Ask what have you tried?
  • What were the results?
  • Ask what are your recommended options?
  • Ask how do you want to be part of the solution?
  • Do you know any others that are feeling the same way and would you want to help come up with ideas to fix it?

This approach will help your people feel heard and opinions valued.  Also, it weeds out the negative thinkers.  Those who want to complain but not help fix the problem.

When you make them feel heard rather than force top-down thinking and respond in ways where they feel they can’t trust being honest, you risk not getting valuable information for an effective strategy.  Also if you don’t understand them and what they are going through, how are you going to provide the adequate tools for them to handle the battle.  Shutting them down before understanding them says to them, “your opinions don’t matter”.  “Your views are not valued enough.”

If you feel they don’t understand the big picture from their feedback, it also tells you they don’t understand the vision.  In that case, you may need to clarify it and get them on board with why what you are asking is important.

Most people want to feel they are doing the right thing and will work more passionately for those who care for them.   Care for your people by empathizing with them and coach them how to become their best and you will have an army helping you accomplish your vision.

Photo taken at Lake Tahoe