July 2023

LEADER PRACTICE No. 5: Listening with Presence

Ever been in conversation with someone, especially a leader, and they are physically with you but not really “with you?” When I ask folks in workshops how they feel in that circumstance they consistently say unimportant and not valued. And yet, how often do we as leaders do that? Guilty as charged! The constant distractions, strong drive to multi-task, desire to be available for others, and working remotely exacerbates challenges to presence and listening.

We’ve also developed patterns of listening for purposes that are largely unconscious to us. For example, we may listen to be right or win, rehearse our response, identify with others, and many more – all of which block our ability to truly listen.

Listening starts with an intention to be present, to listen, and an awareness of what might block us. When we get distracted, because we invariably will, release the distraction, and return our focus to the speaker – over and over again. Conscious leaders also acknowledge when they aren’t able to be present for someone, even in the moment, and request to schedule a time when they can.

We’ve experienced great leaders are great listeners. Listening with presence builds relationships, produces clarity, supports development, prevents misunderstandings, reduces conflict, and ultimately saves us time.


Listening Blocks

Identify your top 2-3 listening blocks (see the full list of 12 listening blocks here.) Reflect on which situations they arise most frequently. What are your team and/or organization’s most prevalent listening blocks?

Listening with Presence

  • Center yourself (See Conscious Leader Practice #1)
  • Set your intention to listen
  • Bring your attention to the speaker
  • Notice when you get distracted including when a block arises
  • Center and return attention to the speaker
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat

Want to learn more about how some of our listening blocks are particularly ineffective in today’s complex working environments? Watch this 3.5 minute video on “Listening to Learn.”

Until next month…

Dana's signature

Founder and Principal Coach