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Leaders Who Listen for Safety Sake

Listening skills are some of the most important elements of great leaders.  When working with leaders I am amazed at the amount of time they spend telling people what to do.  I know coming from someone who speaks to thousands of people every year that must sound funny, but much of my work is spent listening.  My best work is in my workshop, seminar, or facilitated safety discussions held at all levels.  Many of the participants come to me afterward and say, “I wished I could talk with my boss like this.”

“Have you tried?”

“When I do, he/she doesn’t listen.”

Sometimes people think you don’t care because you don’t seem to be listening.

A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

If you want to make a difference, here are some listening tips:

  • Be accessible:  Make sure that you schedule time to be available to your people.
  • Be interested:  Make sure that when you are listening, you act like you want to hear what they are saying.
  • Be attentive: Take notes about what the person is saying if your memory is short.  Nod your head in agreement and for safety sake don’t keep looking at you watch, looking at your computer, or phone while they talk.
  • Be encouraging:  Encourage them to share their feelings and thinking in an expressive way.  People sometimes want to just get a few things off their minds.
  • Be quiet:  Don’t interrupt them by telling them how they can fix the problem, just listen.
  • Be non-judgmental:  It is easy to sit and think to yourself how stupid this person is sounding.  Instead ask them questions like, “What makes them feel this way, or think that way?
  • Finally, be empathetic:  Ask, “I can see why you might think that way, what can I do to improve the situation?”

99.7 % of a workforce wants to do a safe, and high-quality job.  Sometimes your best workers might have some pent-up opinions that they need to share.  It is better for you if you hear directly from them and not the rumor mill.  Spend sometime between now and Christmas making time to listen.  Have an open dialog with your folks, you might be surprised what you learn.  Remember the listening goal is to create a workplace free of recognized hazards so that everyone can go home every day without injury.



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