Listening skills are critical to your success in business and in life. When you take time to refine the all-important skill of listening, you make yourself a better leader. Listening shows engagement and that you care what your team members have to say. By listening, you demonstrate that you are present, attentive and open to hearing other viewpoints.

Lolly Daskal, a best-selling author and speaker and the CEO of Lead From Within, says that great leaders are great listeners. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Daskal’s thoughts on the seven habits of leaders who listen.

1. They listen with full attention. Most people like to speak, but it’s far more rewarding to listen with your full attention. Daskal says that when you give your full attention when someone is speaking you, you end up retaining more. This habit also makes the other person share more because the sincerest form of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.

2. They listen to learn. In most exchanges, people simply react to the latest comment-a logical and often effective approach. But the best leaders are listening to learn, according to Daskal. They don’t track conversations as a back-and-forth but as a path to new information. Listening, learning and putting into practice what you’ve learned will always be the best way to build success.

3. They listen to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply in the front of their mind. But Daskal says that true leaders know that in order to empathize and connect with others, you must first understand them, and that understanding comes from good listening.

4. They listen without interrupting. Most leaders have a genuine desire to be helpful, so it’s always tempting to chime in when someone’s speaking. But when you jump in to be helpful, you’re actually robbing them of the chance to fully express themselves and solve the problem on their own. Instead of rushing to respond when someone else speaks, Daskal encourages leaders to try to zero in on what they’re really saying. You can always offer help later if it’s still needed.

5. They listen to form connections. The best listeners have developed their ability to hear and form connections—and then articulate the connecting points. When you listen and you can form connections with what is being said, you’ll find you’re well prepared to help people put their thoughts in context and decide what to do next.

6. They listen without needing to reply. If you want to be known as a great communicator, you must learn how to listen without thinking about your reply, Daskal notes. As the old saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth. Focus entirely on understanding what’s being said.

7. They listen to silence. Sometimes the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Listen for awkward pauses, omissions, hesitation. When you do this, you’ll become aware of things you haven’t heard before.

Remember that great communication isn’t just about being heard—it’s about hearing others. When you learn to listen well, you begin to engage more deeply with your team, and this is a sign of great leadership.

Source: Lolly Daskal is the president and CEO of Lead From Within, a global consultancy that specializes in leadership and entrepreneurial development. Daskal’s programs galvanize clients into achieving their best, helping them accelerate and deliver on their professional goals and business objectives.