Orchestrating Success

Orchestrating Success

OS 96: Reverse Paradigms, Talking versus Listening

January 10, 2018

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Recently, I created a post about listening. As a musician, I have learned to listen, however there is listening, and there is listening with intention. We often listen without really listening for intent. We listen to form our response, or prejudge the content, or prejudge the context, reason, or content of the person talking.

For the musical conductor, there are many layers of listening. What we listen for includes the following:

  • Balance

  • Correct notes

  • Intonation

  • Blend (especially in choral music)

  • Phrasing

  • Articulation

  • Emotion relevant to the score

  • Dynamics

  • Tempo consistency

  • Tone quality

And that’s not the full list. Conductors listen to multiple layers simultaneously. Some choral conductors sing along with the choir. I’m not sure what their logic is, but it’s not possible for me to sing and listen at the same time. My singing blocks my ability to listen.

I remember talking to someone and thinking that they were not really listening. They were formulating their response while I was talking. Therefore, they could not fully respond to the content or context of what I was saying.

I have also experienced the overtaking leader. Sometimes overtaking is a sign of anxiety, if the leader is afraid of the comments they anticipate will be critical, rather than listening for a perspective that they might not have considered. In this instance, and many others, the leader actually blocks receiving information that could be helpful.

Gathering information, gaining perspective, and testing assumptions are all a part of an effective decision making process. Making good decisions requires having good information. Overtaking, not listening, multi-tasking, and cutting people off before they are finished, are all barriers to effective leadership. Listening is essential to being an effective leader.

We are all guilty of underperforming by compromised listening.

By the way, silence after listening to the other person indicates that you were listening with intention and gives you time to process the information.

Leadership begins with changing self.

Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.

- James Allen


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.