The Art of Listening

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, which means the midway point of the 2018 ACTE Fellowship is on the horizon.  It has been an amazing experience
so far!  Each month, our Fellowship group meets online and we discuss multiple topics related to the profession of career & technical education.  One of our requirements is to read leadership books and engage in chapter discussions.  During our last monthly Fellows meeting, another colleague was covering a chapter in John C. Maxwell’s “The Leadership Handbook:  26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs” book.  The name of the chapter was titled, “The Best Leaders are Listeners,” and it occured to me just how important the skill of listening has been in my professional career!

I currently serve as an administrator in a comprehensive high school and I find that I use my listening skills often.  I previously served as a high school counselor before entering my administrative journey and my graduate coursework in school counseling prepared me to succeed in both roles.  Regarding quality listening skills, I relate well to Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which mentions that people should “seek first to understand” when engaging in communication.  I enjoyed reading Covey’s book, especially this piece, and I have often looked at this particular habit, which is posted in my office as a reminder to reflect upon.

In Maxwell’s book, he states that leaders are more effective if they possess excellent listening skills.  When you listen well, you can learn a lot about people and start to forge solid relationships.  Listening also helps you learn about a person’s concerns.  Many times, I have had parents enter my office and I take time to genuinely understand their issues.  More often than not, listening skills, along with validating thoughts, have helped me quickly diffuse situations with parents.  This same skill set has also helped me effectively work with students and staff members.

In closing, Maxwell quotes in his book that Author Jim Rohn says, “One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of attention.”  I couldn’t agree more!  Listening has  helped me earn trust with people in my building and it keeps problems from turning into bigger situations!  As a takeaway, I plan to use Maxwell’s advice and write an “L” on my notepad in future meetings, as it’s a good reminder to focus on listening when communicating with others.