Time to listen

How often do you make time to listen? Like really stop and listen?

How good does it feel when you’re listened to?

When you’re given 100% undivided attention?

That’s why falling in love 😍 feels so good!

Post lockdown – process and doing

Here in the UK we’re beginning a return to work after the Coronavirus Pandemic Lockdown.

As we’re returning, our attention is understandably on process, compliance, health and safety. On the ‘doing’ of things.

Is time to listen on your radar?

To each other?
To your team?

Like really properly listening, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear?

Massively powerful

This is where understanding is developed.

It’s how people feel recognised and valued.

It creates a sense of belonging.

And it’s hard to do when it means getting off the hamster 🐹 wheel.

But it gives so many longer term benefits.

Making time to listen is one of the most powerful tools you can employ as a leader.

So why don’t we do it?

So why don’t we do it? As well as we could? As often as we should?

Do these reasons sound familiar?

  • You’re mentally too busy to stop and REALLY listen
  • You won’t like what you suspect you’re about to hear and you don’t want to open a can of worms
  • You will want to defend your position, choice and decision and you don’t want to get stuck in a conflict (more here on how to avoid this)
  • You want to be ‘right’, because you’re a competent, experienced leader, so you feel you ‘should’ know the answer and your ‘rightness’ is being questioned, which means you feel your competency is in question.
  • You don’t know how you will make it better – even if you do listen, so what’s the point?
  • You don’t want to get into a spiral of negativity (More here on dealing with negative team members).


My profession requires listening carefully and I still forget to do it, when I’m busy, stressed, fed up of hearing the same thing.

BUT – I’ve learned to notice when I’m avoiding stopping to listen.

I take a metaphorical swivel in my chair.

I face the person in front of me.

And I give them my 100% undivided attention.

I make a conscious effort to make time to listen.

It’s a short term investment for a long term gain

I guarantee when you do make time to listen – and I mean with 100% curiosity and exquisite attention (isn’t that a lovely phrase?!) you will see so many benefits.

  • People are much more likely to find the resources to solve the problem themselves if they feel truly heard and they build long term resources to do it again – without you!
  • Team members have the opportunity to reach the same conclusion about a business decision or change if you give them the air space to think it through and then they’re fully bought in.
  • They may have a point and can show you how to do it better.

And so much more….

  • People who are listened to feel understood
  • People who feel understood feel valued – they actually release positive hormones and endorphins!
  • People who feel valued are less stressed, happier, more productive employees and team players

And all this means a better bottom line and a generally nicer place to be!

Make it part of your teams way of working.

Now, making time to listen is more important (and challenging) than ever.

Here’s a wonderful example from Lynne Humphries, a Nurse Manager at Burnham and Berrow Medical Centre about how her team recognised the need to make time to listen.

“As a clinician, the main focus was the clinical aspect of this pandemic. With a team that was up to the challenges to whatever this pandemic threw at us in making both staff and patients safe we were like Lions defending their cubs.

When I reflect on those challenges/pressures we faced as a practice team I personally feel proud.

Joint effort with both clinical & clerical staff created a safe environment implementing all guidelines.

However, their was one link which we missed. ‘Fear’

Over time as we settled into this new life of COVID, it became apparent that certain myths, frustrations, niggles were surfacing from the clerical team.

This was creating a divide between clerical & clinical staff, (which we have never experienced), as fear overrode logic and evidence.

Clinical staff were avoided like the plague creating tensions and upset.

(This is where listening came in) We stopped, made time and asked how our team were doing.

We listened to the fears, opinions.

The fears around their loved ones and fear of COVID.

What developed from listening was a daily update via email, addressing all those questions, myths etc.

Fear has subsided, working relationships are back to normal we are one team.”

A fantastic example of leaders being aware that there was something behind the behaviours they observed and they chose to make time to listen, so they could understand. And what I really like is that they then responded by implementing a new day to day practice, ensuring they continued that support.

The hamster wheel

So, as we step back onto the hamster wheel of day to day life and work.


It’s so valuable, in so many important ways.

And consider:


I help teams to find ways to listen to one another constructively and regularly. Building practices into day to day working which feel natural, whilst building resilience, capability and accountability. Contact me if you would like to take a fresh approach to listening within your team.