Suspend your point of view

Annick Donat, Head of Strategic Growth, Securitor

Every now and then, if you’re lucky enough, you get the opportunity to ‘unlearn’.  I was privileged to get that opportunity a couple of weeks ago whilst attending a leadership course.

Annick Donat, Head of Strategic Growth, Securitor

Every now and then, if you’re lucky enough, you get the opportunity to ‘unlearn’.  I was privileged to get that opportunity a couple of weeks ago whilst attending a leadership course.

In previous articles, I’ve shared with you the importance of transferring knowledge so the people we lead develop and grow, so I thought I’d share something I ‘unlearned’.

For those of us who work in sales, advice, or anything where we engage a client, we know that to be effective, we need to be good listeners – “two ears, one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak”.

Being a good listener is hard work but we all know the benefits for the person being heard as well as the person doing the listening. When you’re listening, two people are thinking – you and the speaker.

But have you ever considered the frame of mind from where you're listening from? In our course, were asked to consider this – I’d never really focused on it before and quite frankly, there are times when I’m just not in the right frame of mind to do any justice to the person I’m supposed to be listening to. Effective listening depends upon the attitude you're in at the time.

I want you to think about the last client interaction you had. What was the internal dialogue going through your mind? What story were you playing out? And importantly, what judgments were you making? Spend a couple of minutes jotting this down now...I know this sounds silly but it will help identify the ‘multi-tasking’ in your mind – and sometimes multi-tasking is code for doing a lot of things badly!

So how do you change this? As with all things we want to be better at, it takes practice and repetition.

Here’s an exercise to try with your team. One person speaks and the others listen from a different perspective/frame of mind i.e. no matter what this person is saying; one person is disinterested, one genuinely interested , and one person has the view “I know this already”. Rotate the roles so each person gets the opportunity to experience it from a different perspective.


At the end of the exercise, ask your team what they heard and how they felt. Take these insights and use them to coach each other on the importance of being able to ‘suspend’ their internal dialogue and attitudes and work on really listening. It’s also a good way for your team to identify when they’re not really engaged in a conversation with a colleague and focus on changing that behaviour.

In our course, we got a couple of good tips that might also be of assistance to you. As soon as you notice the internal dialogue, just stop it (now that’s will power). However, if you’re anything like me and constantly have ideas, task-lists and solutions running through your head, stopping isn’t easy! So, if you can't stop the internal dialogue, then change it...ask yourself ‘what's he really saying?’ Become interested in what you’re listening to.

And to stop yourself jumping in with solutions, try the Socratic method... ask a question, listen to the response, then use that response to ask your next question. Keep the focus on the other person and just go deeper. Learning to ask good questions is beautiful. Questions can be a weapon or a tool. .

If you want to change your possibilities as a leader, start listening. Problems can resolve themselves just through listening. You don’t always need to have the answer, and often even if you do, it may not be the best answer.


About Annick Donat
Annick Donat, Head of Strategic Growth, SecuritorAnnick Donat is head of strategic growth for BT Financial Group’s Securitor and Licensee Select businesses. She is also responsible for the professional capability program, which includes the advice education strategy.

Annick has held several roles during her 25 year career in financial services including Product Manager, Business Development/Practice Development Manager and Key Account Manager.

Her most recent role prior to joining BT Financial Group was National Operations Manager at MLC.

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