Today’s guest post comes to us from Brandon Smith. Therapist, professor, consultant and radio host, Brandon brings an upbeat, witty approach to the challenges of workplace health and dysfunction. Brandon is the founder of theworkplacetherapist.com – a resource dedicated to eliminating dysfunction at work, improving workplace health and restoring optimism and focus in the workplace. Brandon also currently serves as faculty at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School where he teaches and researches on topics related to leadership, communication and healthy workplace dynamics.
Is your boss listening? Do you feel heard?
Before we start down the path of how to be heard, we need to assess the situation. How bad is it and is it the boss that’s the problem or is it you? Consider the following telltale signs that your boss is a poor listener. Any of these signs by themselves are indicative of poor listening habits, however in combination the results could be disastrous. Note how many behaviors you see from your boss.
- Your boss never asks your opinion
- You meet with your boss less than once a month
- Your boss never does what he / she agrees to doing in your conversations
- When your boss paraphrases what you said to him / her, they almost always get it wrong
- When your boss asks you a question and you answer it, they ask it again as if your answer never happened
- When you talk, your boss does any of the following: stare at you blankly, type, check their phone, simply get up and walk away
- Your boss talks and talks and talks… at you
Signs You Don’t Feel Heard
Equally important is how you experience this behavior. To what degree is this behavior affecting you, your performance and potentially your career? Note the following “costs” of having a boss that is a poor listener. The more statements you answer “yes” to, the more likely your mild frustration will turn to feelings of not being valued, cared for or seen. Deep stuff for certain.
- Your ideas go unrecognized or unacknowledged
- Your are only seen a certain way in the organization (your job / role… not what you are capable of)
- Your career progression has stalled
- You don’t think your boss cares about you
Looking in the Mirror
Now that you have assessed your boss’ listening skills as well as your own experience of being heard, there is one last question to ask yourself: Is it your boss that’s the problem or is it you? That’s a complicated question but an important one. It could be that there are things you aren’t doing to get heard and as a result you are really to blame for this dynamic. Or perhaps you are projecting historical patterns and beliefs onto your boss. In other words, do you have a life pattern of no one listening to you? As one client shared with me, “I grew up with stable but disconnected parents that never really listened to me. They never put forth the effort to get to know me as a person and what I thought. On top of that, I was the youngest of six children so my siblings never listened to what I had to say. As a result, I walk in the world doubting any one really wants to listen to what I have to say. Believe me, it has caused me more than one problem at work particularly with bosses.”
How do you tell if the problem is really you? Simple. Look around. If you co-workers have the same issue with your boss, it’s probably not you. However, if you seem to be the only one struggling with being heard by your boss, look in the mirror. The culprit may be staring right back at you.
Do you think there are some signs that I missed? Let me know via Twitter by mentioning @theWPTherapist.