This week I met my friend Colin Smith for a coffee and a talk.

In fact, I should say that I met him for a listen.

Colin is a listening coach. Having the chance to be listened to by him, and getting to listen to him in turn, is a blissful experience. Maybe you know the experience – when someone really listens.

Colin helps leaders to do that – not just to hear, but to listen. Yes, just to LISTEN. We might think we know how this works, but here’s a quick test: count the number of times you or someone else interrupts someone during a conversation.

It’ll scare the life out of you.

SO SO SO SO many leaders are good at hearing, but when it comes to the conversation, they need some improvement with listening. They interrupt, they change topic, they are distracted, they look elsewhere, they lead the conversation where they want. They don’t listen.

Simon and Garfunkel picked up this terrible habit in their song the Sound of Silence, which I certainly encourage you to have a soulful listen to… (Notice how we listen to music, we don’t just hear it?)

Engagement begins at home. All engagement stems from how we engage within ourselves, and how we engage with people in our everyday life. 

If we can’t listen in a conversation, then you can bet your bottom dollar that we can’t listen to our teams, to our employees at large, to our customers and market segments, to our communities, to our cities, and to our nations.

And if we think engaging people is just about talking, we’ve really got it wrong. Engagement might start with what we say, but it continues by how we listen.

I’m still no world leader… but I certainly think we all need a bit more listening on a global scale, on a organisational level, and I would expect, also between each other in general.

Here’s to listening.