These 4 bad habits are slowing down your meetings

Taking the time to listen carefully will make your next meeting move much faster, leadership coach Sabina Nawaz writes for Harvard Business Review.

Most leaders think they know how to listen, but few actually practice the skill well, notes Nawaz, a leadership expert. Poor listening often means unnecessary misunderstandings, repetition, and conflict, all of which take up time. Leaders can run leaner, faster, and more productive meetings—if they avoid these common listening mistakes. 

Mistake 1: You try to multitask

Trying to multitask during a conversation will keep you from truly understanding what your colleagues have to say, Nawaz writes. Practice being present in your meetings by leaving behind any devices and taking margin notes, she suggests.

Mistake 2: You don't put words into context

Use your previous discussions and the speaker's priorities to interpret what they're telling you, Nawaz writes. If you don't consider the context of their words, you may misinterpret their meaning.

Mistake 3: You make assumptions

Assuming you understand your colleague's words can lead to mixed messages that you'll only have to address in the next meeting, Nawaz warns. To avoid any chance of misinterpretation, paraphrase what has been said and ask for confirmation.

Mistake 4: You don't build off what others have said

Productive conversations happen when people build off each other's remarks, Nawaz argues. Let your partner's words inform your own ideas before you offer a counterargument, she says (Nawaz, Harvard Business Review, 12/13).


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