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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

We Have Two Ears and One Mouth For a Reason

Published August 15, 2010 3:58 PM by Glen McDaniel

It was great seeing my friend after about 4 years. As we went through the day he kept talking about the weather (hot!), traffic (too much, too slow), service in the restaurant at lunch (lousy), the economy, and people in general. Whew! At first, I thought I was just worn down by whining (and I was), but later when I was  gratefully alone, I realized that I was equally annoyed and stressed by the constant talk.

I was regaled with tales of every relationship and job (he had several in the years I hadn't seen him). Yet I am not sure he knew about any changes in my life. He hadn't asked and ,frankly, had not given me a chance to inform him.

That made me think about leadership and the importance of listening as a leadership skill. Smart leaders listen.  Leadership guru, John Maxwell, writing in How successful people think, says he has observed that the most successful leaders all read, spend time around other successful people, and practise the skill of listening.

Much can be said for listening whether it is absorbing the knowledge of experts or listening what your employees have to say. The typical performance evaluation should involve a few questions interspersed with lots of listening.  That's the only way to learn what's working and what is not. If you want to know the barriers to success, ask- and then wait for an answer. More pointedly, you have to listen to learn how you can best help an employee do his/her job, or make them feel more engaged.

Active listening is an art; it is not zoning out and being distracted, but rather it invlves being fully present while you truly hear what someone else is saying.

  • Listen without judgment
  • Listen to understand. Look the person in the eye. Don't start formulating an answer or smart repartee before someone else finishes talking. Look for non- verbal cues as well. Steven Covey says in his tome The 7 habits of highly effective people that listening to understand is the key to communication.
  • Verbalize back to the talker what you think they said. This clarifies the information for you, shows respect for the speaker and makes sure that is what the person meant to say.

Knowledge is power for a leader and no leader can get real information without listening. As old folks are wont to say ‘The good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason."


That is so true. In all my years in the lab I dont think I have met one manager or supervisor who was a good listener. They talk AT employees, they are always right and they must always have the last word. To many supervisors in the lab that's what being a supervisor is. They think if their employee is right, then they must be wroong and not be too good of a manager.

Listening is something we could all learn to be better people at work, with friends and with family.

Tobias MT(ASCP) August 21, 2010 4:13 PM
Rochester NY

Thanks, Angie.

I understand the policy of no personal opinions or no solicitation. The idea is that some may find it offensive and if you allow one you have to allow ALL. However, maybe you could run this blog by your supervisor or manager and see if it falls under the heading of "education." It is opinion, to be sure, but so general that it just MIGHT be an exception to the "no posting" rule.

Thanks again for your comment; and let me know if you get it posted.

Glen McDaniel August 18, 2010 7:13 PM

I LOVED THIS!!!   Short and to the point!   I wish everyone would read this and "LISTEN" to what it is "saying"!   I would copy this and post it at my work place but we are not permitted to any more because others may be offended-Then maybe they should be listening!   Thanks

Angie August 18, 2010 2:57 PM

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