Are You Really Listening?

Today I am speaking to a number of groups in the Charleston, SC area, including local graduates of one of our most important initiatives: Learning how to listen. Really listen.

I’ve written quite often about the transformative effect of Barry-Wehmiller University’s foundational course, Communications Skills Training, on our team members. The most common response: “It changed my life.”

My wife Cynthia recognized the importance of these classes and challenged us to find a way to share them with the world outside Barry-Wehmiller. So she and I founded Our Community LISTENS, a non-profit dedicated to bringing these skills to communities. Currently, Our Community LISTENS regularly offers our Communications Skills Training course not only in Charleston, but in Aspen, CO, Charlotte, NC, Green Bay, WI, Midland, MI and Phillips, WI.

When we created the BW Leadership Institute – to share what we have learned about building and fostering a people-centric culture with other organizations – Communication Skills Training was one of the fundamental offerings we wanted to bring to other businesses. We now call it “Listen Like a Leader.” Just last week BWLI hosted 21 people from a large cross-section of organizations for the three-day course in St. Louis.

To date, thousands of our team members and hundreds of people outside of Barry-Wehmiller have taken these classes and are learning that when you listen to another person – really, truly listen – it is a deeper, richer experience for everyone. It’s not about hearing what the other person is saying, but more deeply understanding what they feel, or the message behind their words. When someone feels heard by you, you have let them know that they matter.

What kind of listener are you? Are you really listening to the people in your life?

Here’s an article from Inc. Magazine that has a few things to consider about what it takes to really hear someone.

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $3+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 12,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.

1 Comment

  • Greg Williams says:

    Another great thought piece by the Barry-Wehmiller folks. It’s so true that listening is really hard work! But, it also pays very high dividends in our personal and professional relationships. In my experience as a leader and working with leaders, there are two skills that we have a very difficult time mastering, listening and reflection. Increasing our effectiveness in these areas would make us a better person and a better leader. I really like the Barry-Wehmiller transition from “communication skills” to “listen like a leader” – it captures more of the essence of what the course teaches and what the participants experience. As a graduate of the class, I know that my listening skills have improved, but I also recognize that I still have a long way to go.

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