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Friday, February 17, 2012

Lean Quote: Applying Active Listening to Engage Others

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Seek to understand first, before being understood." — Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Habit 5 of 7 in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Communication is the most important skill in life. You spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening?

Applying Active Listening, allows you and other individuals to engage in a dialogue where you are both equipped with clarity and understanding of the purpose, content and outcome of the discussion. It is an empowering and important skill in managing diversity in a global business.

Try these tips to improve your active listening:

  • Look at the individual, stop the other things you are doing and remove distractions. Listen not only to the words, but pay attention to the tone and emotions of the individual.
  • Be attentive to what the individual is talking about.
  • Restate what the person said in your own words to ensure complete understanding.
  • Be patient, silent and respect pauses, let the individual finish speaking.
  • Ask meaningful and clarifying questions.
  • Be aware of your own emotions and opinions.
  • If you wish to offer your own opinion, only do this after you have listened.
 Effective active listening requires skill in providing feedback and being observant of verbal and non-verbal signals.


  • Good eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Body Language
  • Silence
  • “I’m listening” cues
  • Validating Statements
  • Statements of Support
  • Reflection/Mirroring Statements
We often prescribe before making a proper diagnosis when communicating. We should first take the time to deeply understand the problems presented to us. The real key to influence is example - your actual conduct.

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1 comment:

  1. Great point, Tim. I find validating what was said is a great way to make sure what I heard was what was said.