Let's LEAD - July 2020

"I'm listening..."

Ask anyone to describe one of their biggest challenges in any relationship, personal or professional, and it's likely related to communication, or the lack thereof.

Picture this:

My husband is in the living room watching TV and I'm in the family room (also) watching TV.

He calls out...'Hey Babe?'


I hear something but nothing that resembles actual words, so I mute my TV, and again...


Blah, blah, blah...again, all I hear are muffled words. His TV is still on and there's a wall between us.

This is clearly going nowhere. I stand up and walk to the living room. Now I'm frustrated, and again I ask...


This is a pattern of communication that will continue...until one of us decides to break the pattern.  

As humans, we have a strong need to be seen and heard. And when we aren't, we may think, 'Well, I guess I need to get LOUDER. That will get your attention!'

Lots of people and groups are working really hard to get our attention right now...to be seen and heard...to connect. As leaders in ALL areas of our lives, it's time to start listening. I promise, you'll learn a lot.

I'm working hard to really listen...to understand.


3 Tips - Listening to Understand

You probably already know this...hearing and listening are two different things. As I write this, the family room TV is on (still?) and music is playing on my iPad here in my office. I can HEAR the TV, and I'm LISTENING* to the music. 

The difference? Hearing is a passive activity; I hear the sounds around me. Listening requires active, focused attention

*One of my favorite Coldplay songs just came on...I had to stop writing to listen to it (and dance) for a few minutes...(enjoy!)

So, to truly listen, what are three things we can do?

  1. Stop multi-tasking - I had a boss years ago who, when I went into his office with a question, would physically move anything in front of him (papers, files) and give me his undivided attention. At first, this was just WEIRD...I wasn't used to anyone focusing just on me and what I had to say.

    When I became a leader, I remembered this as something I wanted to emulate...and I aspire to this level of listening every day.

  2. Confirm understanding - Don't assume you understand what the other person is trying to say. Often, especially when emotion is involved, we aren't particularly skilled at conveying our message, so as listeners, we can help by confirming our understanding. For example:

    'I can hear that you're really upset, and to make sure I understand, you're frustrated by the way that meeting ended, is that correct?'

    If the answer is 'yes,' then great! You're on the right track.

    If the answer is 'no,' then consider following up with 'Okay, then help me understand again what happened.' 

  3. Avoid giving advice - I think I'm REALLY GOOD at giving advice! My adult son often calls me and says, 'Mom, I need your advice.' This is RARELY what he really needs. After he shares what's going on, I'll clarify my understanding (see #2), and the call typically ends before I've had a chance to share any advice!

    You see, he THINKS he needs advice, but what he really needs is SOMEONE TO LISTEN so he can get his own thoughts and next steps in order. By truly listening to him, I'm able to discern between his presented 'ask' for advice, and what he really needs from me. 

Are you committed to becoming a better listener? Which one of these tips are you willing to try? 

Cool Resources

What I'm reading*:

Personality Types: Use the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso, with Russ Hudson.

REQUEST: if anyone knows of a good 'basics' workshop to learn the Enneagram, please let me know. This stuff is fascinating! 

*I use Amazon links (no affiliate relationship); please check with your book retailer of choice

Articles I recommend:

Reflections on Responsibility as the Price of Freedom - Emotionally Resilient Living by Marquita Herald

Awesome quote: 

'My advice is rarely as good as I think it is.' -- Michael Bungay Stanier, author, The Advice Trap.  😏

A bonus:

I'm a big fan of the 're-frame'...how can we shift the way we see something from a negative to something we can see as a positive in our lives? 

My friend Carlee Myers has created a re-frame tool around how we manage our stress (got some?)...click here to check it out!


Coming up...

Last month, I shared that I'm in the process of developing a coaching peer group program for women in leadership. It's tentatively called Intentional Self-Leadership for Women, building upon a simple development model that includes six (6) key elements to developing one's self-leadership. To learn more about Self-Leadership, click here...

The concept behind Self-Leadership is that great leadership starts with us...through self-awareness, self-knowledge and the other elements, we create a foundation that prepares us to show up as a leader others want to follow...in ALL areas of our lives.

More details to come!

Connect with me...

I share great articles in LinkedIn from inspiring thought leaders on various leadership topics, especially on issues that are timely and relevant. Please connect with me!

If you're interested in scheduling a call to talk about how coaching can help you achieve your personal and professional goals, click here...

I look forward to staying connected!




Camille McKinney
Leveraged Leaders