Communication for Leaders: Take
the "Reflection Challenge"
executives, entrepreneurs, managers and
emerging leaders---lend me your ears!
you stop talking, evaluating and judging
long enough to listen to someone else? Most
of us have a hard time taking in
information. Yet, listening for
meaning---taking in information in order
to ultimately create something or make
something happen---is the essence of
business, leadership, and management.
physician executives, we believe we
have extraordinary listening skills
because we have been listening to
patients for many years in
the process of diagnosing and treating.
However, our training and bias as
physicians to a) evaluate
and b) come to conclusions
in the short period of time that a
patient visit affords, can be the
undoing of us in a leadership
role. The tendency to evaluate is actually
a barrier to communication.
This concept is well developed in the
classic article by Carl Rogers and F J
Roethlisberger, "Barriers and
Gateways to Communication" (Harvard
Business Review, November-December
1991). The gateway to
communication, then, is to listen
for understanding. To understand
someone else is to truly take into
account their perspective, their
motivations, and their needs. Only
then can you both move forward to build
a solution, a path, a committed
let's get out of the
conceptual mode now. Are you up
for a challenge? To build your skills in effective
communication, I want you to
practice ONE behavior for ONE day:
does Reflection Challenge work?
For one whole day, no matter what
situation you find yourself in---in the
morning with your spouse and children,
during the day with your staff, in the
evening with friends and colleagues.
Every opportunity you can, when someone
communicates to you, you will Reflect to
that person what you heard. You
must reflect OUT LOUD to them.
Thinking about what you heard them say
or thinking you understood doesn't
count. Here are some phrases you
I'm hearing is that you . .
. want to . . .
I'm hearing is that you are
experiencing some . . . . .
me see if I understand . . . . you
are saying that . . . .
I capture the essence of what you
sounds like . . . . Is that
Reflecting is a core competency in
effective listening. It bridges
the gap between individual
perspectives, leads to clarity and the
sense of "being heard."
is so hard about reflecting? For
many of us, we fear that reflecting
will imply agreement with the other
person. Or we fear our own views
will not be heard or may be minimized.
But just the opposite will occur when
you reflect in the process of
conversation, meetings and
discussions. Barriers drop and
both sides are heard. Trust me,
this is one of the most powerful
techniques in leadership and
management I have ever experienced
am requesting that all of you to take
this listening challenge at least one
day in June. Send me a quick
email of how the day went for you and
I will share these in the next
newsletter. Go for it!
Gaillour, MD, Business Consultant and Executive Coach for
Healthcare Leaders email@example.com,