It was the end of Day 2 of executive team meetings. We had all enjoyed being together in person for the first time in 18 months. But it wasn’t just the jam-packed schedule or the long dinners together that had taxed this executive’s energy.
It certainly wasn’t how much he had talked, since he’s the quietest member of the team. It was the intensity of listening to his colleagues for two full days.
Pros know this. They know that listening is a whole-person workout.
- Listening places demands on your body. You turn yourself toward another person, orienting your posture, your facial expression, and your eyes to the speaker.
- Listening asks your mind to be focused and curious. To tune into the other person and ignore distractions.
- Listening involves your gut. You notice your emotional reactions and those of others. You manage those emotions so that you can stay present. You don’t allow your brain to be hijacked by your feelings.
- Listening requires you to use your relational antennae. How is one person’s comments hitting others in the room? What are the ripple effects?
- Listening invites your will to do one of the few things it’s good at: to orient you toward another person. It’s not as heroic as we’d like it to be, but it’s a crucial role.
Listening may be one of the most immersive activities we engage in, especially since most of us look like we’re barely doing anything while we’re listening. In fact, it requires every part of us to be engaged, working together for one purpose – to understand another. To show them we have their back.
No wonder we’re tired after we listen really well.