The Listen-Ask-Tell Leadership Communication Strategy
Chris Smith, Ph.D.
We each view the world around us through our own filters. This includes our primary motivators (e.g., people, process and performance), beliefs about who we are as a person and how we have to be to obtain success, personal and professional responsibilities and our experience. When team members are left to interpret their leader’s behaviors through their own filters, there is a greater chance of misinterpretation, conflict and disengagement. The Listen-Ask-Tell Leadership Communication Strategy is a powerful three-step tool that assures alignment and builds strong relationships.
- Listen. Active listening, as the name implies, requires leaders to first listen to their team members without trying to solve a problem or further an agenda. Elements of active listening include genuine listening, paraphrasing what was heard, allowing the other party to clarify their meaning, and repeating this process until both parties agree they understand one another’s perspectives.
- Ask. Use clarifying and solution-focused, open-ended questions to expand the dialogue to new ideas, opinions, and information. Open-ended questions require more than a yes/no or a simple one-word response. Try phrasing questions by starting the question with “Why,” “What," and “How."
- Tell. Provide assertive direction and feedback. This step involves giving specifics about your expectations, explaining consequences, giving information, directing and persuading others and giving feedback. Clarify what success looks like and what is required to achieve it, build new competencies in followers, create positive habits and provide for accountability.
The Listen-Ask-Tell strategy quiets the emotional part of the brain, demonstrates care, builds trust and assures your employees feel heard and understood. It's an investment of your time, but will yield great benefits in your team’s well-being.
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