It’s OK not to listen sometimes…

2010/12/14

A lot of material talks about how important it is to be a good listener and that being a good listener is a fundamental leadership trait. But thinking aloud, a key leadership trait (and wisdom I would say if that’s not being too philosophical) is also knowing when not to listen.

Many times, people around us feed ideas and tell us to do something based on a set of perspectives they have. And many times it could also be what they think we deserve. Key indicators of when to listen and whom to listen to can probably include:

How will the decision we make affect the person we are seeking help from? Is this person directly or indirectly impacted by the decision? Is that person even connected? If the answer is yes, it’s probably a good idea not to ask that person since he or she might give ideas that fit their perspective (unless it’s a family member of course). That said, it is also individual responsibility to ensure we don’t compromise their values and goals with the decision we make.

What has been the track record of this person in actually looking out for our good? There were many instances I encountered when people gave suggestions only to prove they know something. Or on bad days, the motive can be as bad as trying to seduce you into things that are not of tangible, but definitely intangible benefit to them. Again, it’s about knowing how much this person has really supported us during testing times – intangible over tangible. Tangible support could include helping us with money or physical help, and intangible could include just being there for us when we need to talk to someone.

Has this person ever been in our shoes? If this person is not from a similar culture, has not encountered similar problems, or generally has not had experiences similar to us, then it’s not a good idea to seek feedback. They might be right in their views, just that it might not fit our goals. But this should not mean we need not “hear” them out. It is good, and even if we faintly remember some of what they say, it might help us sometime in the future. But using it to evaluate options for the existing scenario is probably not a good idea.

So what do you think? Is there more I’m missing, or is it good to be a good listener irrespective of situations?

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