Stop Listening to What Your Employees are “Saying”

Guest Post written by Chris Cebollero

For years, leaders have been hearing that a staple for leadership success is listening to what your employees are saying. Moreover, leaders have been encouraged to develop active listening skills, and make this skill a cornerstone in their leadership skills toolbox. However, one of the most common leadership mistakes is not utilizing true active listening to what your employees are saying.



Here are five “active listening” skills that all leaders should be practicing:

1.     Give People Your Undivided Attention – Don’t be distracted by your phone or computer.

  • Face the speaker
  • Make continual eye contact
  • Don’t get lost in other thoughts
  • Refrain from thinking of a response
  • Listen to their body language


2.     Show Your Interest – This is a vital component to successful communication.

  • Support the speaker with small positive comments such as “yes”, and “absolutely”
  • Nod occasionally
  • Smile as appropriate
  • Use an inviting posture


3.     Share Feedback – Let the speaker know you understand what was expressed. Don’t let your own opinions, judgments, and beliefs twist what is being said.

  • Ask questions to clarify.  Ask, “What do you mean when you say…?” or “Is this what you meant?”
  • Paraphrase their message.  Use phrases like, “What I’m hearing you say is…” or “It sounds like what you’re saying is…”
  • From time to time summarize the speaker’s comments


4.     Don’t Interrupt - This will just frustrate the speaker and it actually will cause you to lose an understanding of the intended message.

  • Let the speaker finish their main points before asking any questions
  • Never interrupt them with your own opinions or disagreements


5.     Reply Appropriately Attacking the speaker is never the appropriate thing to do – ever!

  • Always be honest, open and sincere in your responses
  • Assert your thoughts courteously
  • Use the “Golden Rule” and treat people as you would like to be treated in a similar situation

These are just a few tips on how you can develop active listening skills. However, there is one more tip that trumps all of these, and I like to call it my “secret sauce”.

Stop listening to what your employees are saying, and instead start listening to what your employees are feeling. When you listen to their feelings, you will understand their words.


About the author, Chris Cebollero:

Chris Cebollero is a multi-number 1 Best Selling Author of Ultimate Leadership: 10 Rules for Success, and Ultimate Success - Strategic Leadership Excellence. Chris is also the host of the Ultimate Leadership Podcast which has just over 100k subscribers.  More information about Chris Cebollero can be found at

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