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The Decision Institute – Coach Manny Nowak

Sales and Leadership Development

The first step in outstanding leadership is Learning to Listen.


If you do not know how to “Shut up and Listen,” you will never be that outstanding leader. This is as plain and simple as it gets!   The great leaders all know how to stop talking and listen.  They know how to maintain their silence and allow someone else to speak.


In addition, they always remember that he who asks the questions controls the world. Ask more questions and listen, really listen to the answers.


Here are some simple tips for you.


1.      Be Genuinely interested:

A successful listener is genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. 

He/she is in the moment and it shows all over the listeners face and in the listeners actions. 


If you are doing 10 other things (phone, computer, cell phone, papers on desk, etc.), then you are not listening and the other person knows it. Who wants to talk to someone who is not genuinely interested?  I sure don’t!



2.      Listen with an open mind

Nothing worse than a person who has closed you out and stopped listening.  It shows on their face no matter how hard they try to hide it. 


When someone doesn’t like what you are saying most times they have stopped listening.



3.      Echo back:

Echo back means when you answer, use parts of what the other person has said in your response.


It makes them aware that you are really listening and you have taken the time to make what they are talking about part of you.



4.      Stop trying to fill the Silence:

Become comfortable with silence. 

It is a time to reflect. 


Everyone is not operating at the speed you are, maybe they are using the silence to think.  We are so afraid of silence – stop, it is OK to be silent.



5.      Eye contract:

Are you looking at the person who is talking, or are you looking everywhere else?  Are you looking at the other person or at your phone, your notebook, out the window?


6.      Don’t get the I can’t wait to answer – itchy pants syndrome

You know this person, the one who already has the answers.  The one that has stopped listening and just wants to jump up and give you answers, now.  In other words, don’t think about what you are going to say until the other person is done talking, this thinking takes you out of listening mode.  That’s why you should take notes.



7.      Never Cut them off or interrupt them.

Ever try to talk to someone and every time you breathe they start talking.  Or right in the middle of your sentence they start talking.  Shut up and listen.  Be quiet.



8.      You think to fast, so concentrate.

According to The international Listening Association (www.listen.org) we listen at 125-250 words per minute, but think at 1000-3000 words per minute. So you really have to concentrate too listen effectively.



9.      Listen to understand

Bottom line, you are listening to understand, not respond.  Unfortunately, most of us listen to respond and thus we are always thinking about our response.  We miss much of what we should be listening for.



10.     Ask more questions

Instead of commenting, analysis and fixing.  Ask for questions.  Let the person talk more. 

Many times if a person can talk a bit more they find many of the answers themselves. 


It also helps you understand better.  Bottom line is, he who asks the questions, controls the conversation.



The first step in outstanding leadership is Learning to Listen. These are only 10 tips.  There are many more.  Point is, make it a priority to learn how to listen better.  It will take you form excellent to outstanding.


Ready to take your game to the next level?

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You walk into the bosses office and he has
his email open, desk full of papers, is on his
speaker to assistant. You sit down to go
over a very important project you are
working on while he continues to work on
his email, get interrupted by his
assistant, and his cell phone rings.

Or perhaps you walk into you bosses office
to discuss a very important problem.
She is very happy to listen to you – or so
you think. You start talking, but then she
interrupts you,and starts talking. You keep
trying to get the conversation back to why
you came, but it never gets there.

You leave the office frustrated.

And then there is the boss who you talk to,
but get no response, no body language,
no real movement. You keep talking but
he is somewhere else and totally non-responsive.

How many people do you know who really
know how to listen?

I mean they know how to shut up and let
the other person talk.

I mean they simply ask a question or two
and let you talk. I mean they don’t
interrupt or sit their just waiting for a break
to say something.

They totally listen to you.

Dean Rusk said it very simply,

“One of the best ways to persuade others
is with your ears by listening to them.”


You think that is leadership? What would
happen if we really started to listen to our
team. Would it make a difference?

“My dear brothers, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
James 1:19.

Let’s look at a few simple listening skills
that you as a leader should be practicing
every day.

First, give your full attention to the person
who is speaking.

You need to stay focused.
Stop multi-tasking when
you should be listening. Resist the
temptation to do anything but listen.

Second don’t start building answers before
you are finished listening.

If you work with
me you have notice I take so many notes –
because I am listening.

There is a huge gap between the rate of
speech and your rate of thought- you can
think faster than people can talk. This is
why you have a tendency to wonder when
someone is talking.

But this is also why you can take notes
and pay attention.

And finally, be responsive both verbally and

This is what is called active listening.
Making sure the person you are talking
with knows not just that you are listening,
but more that you are paying attention
and taking in what they are saying.

The first letter in leadership is “L” which
stands for listening.

To be a great leader,

you have to become a great listener.