When you attend a meeting actually be present, not just physically but mentally too. You are invited to a group discussion because your company needs you. They need your brainpower, creativity and ideas. They need you to solve problems by joining the dots in some non-obvious way that requires the full context of the discussion to achieve that lightbulb moment. Being present and listening is hard work and takes practise to get good at it. Here are some techniques that may help.
The Three Levels of Listening *
Level 0: Not Listening
Ok I cheated and added this fourth before the others. Put the laptop/phone down, look up and listen.
Level 1: Internal Listening
I can’t wait for him to finish his sentence, I’ve already worked out how to counter his argument…
Have you ever had that internal dialog? We all have. Whilst you are having internal dialog you are not listening to the other person. Whilst they are having internal dialog they are not listening to you. That’s not going to have a good outcome. Remember, communication is what the listener does, so you need to be listening.
Level 2: Focused Listening
This is hard work and takes a lot of practise. When you get distracted either by your own thoughts or external stimulus, continually refocus on the speaker and pay attention.
Level 3: Global Listening
This is tuning into the group dynamic whilst still listening. It’s that feeling of tension, camaraderie or embarrassment amongst the group. Bring that feeling out into the open and talk about it.
I feel like there’s some tension in the group, lets talk about it
If the group doesn’t want to talk about it, simply drop it. Try again next time.
Don’t be a Level 0. Be present.
*The Three Levels of Listening are from the book Co-Active Coaching.