Your People "NOT LISTENING" is NOT the Problem - The Problem Is Much Worse

leadership communication competence leadership communication confidence Jan 31, 2023

Recently a new member to my Leadership Communication Confidence Facebook Group noted in their application to join that their #1 issue regarding their "communication confidence" was employees "not listening" to them.

If I had a dime for every time I've heard this issue from business leaders, I could retire.

About ten years ago was when I first realized this was a big problem for managers and leaders in organizations. The office manager for a client I was working with would often complain to me that "no one listens to me."

In assessing her situation and the type of relationships she had with those in the office she was supposed to be leading, I realized that "listening" to her was not the problem.

Ever since then, when I hear similar laments, I typically say that "your team members 'not listening' is NOT the problem they should be upset about."

Blaming this on "not listening" is lazy leadership communication (also lazy parenting communication.

I'm sorry to have to tell you that. BUT, that's the truth.

The good news is when you begin to feel as if your team members are "not listening" you can use this as a trigger.

It should trigger you to explore the issue and concern with the individuals deeper. 

Simply, get curious.

What I've learned to be true in these situations is that unless your people are deaf and cannot hear you, your people are hearing you.

As a matter of fact, what I've learned in my 30+ years in leadership myself, and leadership communication coaching is that people are hearing you, and one of two things are happening.

1) There was a lack of clarity between you and them on "next steps," and they took an action or behaved in a way contrary to your expectations based on how you believe the conversation closed, or 

2) They purposely chose to do something different, disregarding your request, suggestion, or delegation.

So, if that's the case, why are you labeling this as "not listening?" 

They heard you, so, if that's the case... is leadership (and parenting) malpractice. It's lazy leadership (and parenting) communication.

Especially for this reason...

What do you think is going to happen when you confront the issue with your employees and tell them you think they're "not listening" to you?

With that approach, you are in blame mode. Blame mode rarely, if ever, works well.

Get out of blame mode if you want team members (in business and family) to "listen" to you, to take the steps you and they have agreed on in your conversations.

If you would like to develop the communication confidence to address this and other similar leadership communication challenges, check out the 2023 Communication Confidence Bootcamp at this link!