A review by Employment law attorney Michael Maslanka reviews the book Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski. Review focuses on author’s lesson about using listening as a management tool.
In Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, Jaworski talks about how he made the difficult decision to leave the lucrative practice of law in Houston to develop a management institute. During this transition, he learned a variety of things, including the power of listening. He describes how he was grappling with the notion of leaving the law to embark on this new venture and how he spoke to a colleague about it. This is what he says:
Just being able to be there for others and to listen to them is one of the most important capacities a [manager] can have. It calls forth the best in people by allowing them to express what is within them. If someone listens to me say what I am feeling, then my feelings are given substance and direction, and I can act.
[My colleague] probably didn’t agree with all that I was saying, but . . . he listened intently, and I know he cared deeply. His listening allowed me to develop my thoughts. While I talked, his eyes never wandered. He looked directly at me and gave me his full attention, as if nothing else mattered in that moment. The more he listened, the more I was able to express myself and the more certain I became about what I was saying. This experience with [my colleague] taught me a great deal about the power of listening, about how fundamentally important it is.
This is good advice. And, yes, sometimes it will not work. Some employees will not respond to it, and no matter how much you focus on what they are saying, they will never be able to express themselves. But don’t ignore the advice because of the exception to the rule. To do so is letting the tail wag the dog. So, the next time you want to cut someone off when he or she is struggling to explain something, take a deep breath, remember Jaworski’s counsel, and listen. You may be glad you did.
Michael Maslanka is the managing partner of Ford & Harrison LLP’s Dallas, Texas, office. He has 20 years of experience in litigation and trial of employment law cases and has served as Adjunct Counsel to a Fortune 10 company where he provided multi-state counseling on employment matters. He has also served as a Field Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.
Mike is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly and Law & Politics Magazine in 2003. He was also selected as one of the best lawyers in Dallas by “D” Magazine in 2003. Mike has served as the Chief Author and Editor of the Texas Employment Law Letter since 1990. He also authors the “Work Matters” column for Texas Lawyer.