This article could have been titled “Listen Different”.
The common perception of good listeners is that they are good at being quiet and acting as ‘sponges’, soaking in information, being careful at all times not to offend their conversation partners with their unsolicited opinions. The operating assumption here, it seems, is that great conversations result from one person being passive and the other active.
Zenger and Folkman offer research and conclusions which challenge this claim, arguing instead that
“Good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of —
and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.”
The type of listening that Zenger and Folkman endorse here is exactly the kind of listening that Teach Different actively promotes in its 3-step process. You find an intriguing quote and then proceed to identify the claim that the author of the quote is asserting. Then, you play devil’s advocate and think about equally compelling counterclaims into the mix. Finally, you take a step back, slow down your thinking, and then generate an essential question that ties everything together. Robust conversation follows.
As this conversation unfolds, a more sophisticated understanding of the question and topic surfaces. All involved must become active listeners who coach each other towards better understanding. Success requires patience and active listening.
Joseph Folkman is the president of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy. He is a coauthor of the October 2011 HBR article “Making Yourself Indispensable” and the book Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution (McGraw Hill, 2016). Connect with Joe at twitter.com/joefolkman.
Jack Zenger is the CEO of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy. He is a coauthor of the October 2011 HBR article “Making Yourself Indispensable” and the book Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution (McGraw Hill, 2016). Connect with Jack at twitter.com/jhzenger.